Friday, 30 November 2012

Reminder for Catherine's Craft Fair

Catherine Smedley is holding her annual CHRISTMAS CRAFT FAIR this coming weekend:
Saturday - 1st.  December  14h - 19h
Sunday  -  2nd  December  10h - 19h
Galerie d'Art, La Barriere, LACAPELLE-LIVRON
4Km north of Caylus, on the D19 - road to St.Projet

Gerard Depardieu drunk on his scooter in Paris

Good actor he may be but  his agressive drunken activities which are reported make him seem not a likeable man. For the second time after an accident driving his scooter drunk in Paris, he has been "mis en garde a vue"  arrested and held in custody.
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Thursday, 29 November 2012

Back home for a warm up.

Cold it was , but what a  good night musically. John Taylor got us off to a good start with 3 songs with join in chorus, followed by Ian Allison who stepped in whilst we waited  the arrival  of  " the French boys" who were a little late ( French time )  Anyway Ming and Boris came on and played jazz guitar to riotous applause. In the second half the boys played 3 tunes and then because of cries of more,  played another. It was also nice to have a group of young French who turned up supporting their friends. Sadly as they live in Toulouse they will only be able to make the odd event, but it is lovely to see and hear such keen musicians.
Next on was Gavin Porter with a Gaelic song and then an Occitan carol, well done Gavin.
Finishing off the evening Charles and Anna, and Anna your banjo playing is really coming on. Charles singing the laughing policeman had everyone holding their sides and was infectious.
It was cold and turning the noisy heating off suited some of the group and not others. For the next one on Sat 29th of Dec. I will ask the caretaker if he would mind switching the heating on earlier. Another idea is for us to leave the heating on but make the stage in the middle of the room away from the noisy heater.
The take on the door was 70 euros which means there were 35 audience and 7 players who get in free.
Actually it was 72 euros as I forgot to pay!
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Donkey Sanctuary Stall

We are having a little stall at the cafe du centre to raise funds to feed our donkeys, so come along at 6.30pm samedi 1 decembre to a sale full of lots of colourful and interesting stalls with ideas for your christmas gifts to the cafe du centre at Roquecor, then stay for supper if you like afterwards. tel 0563943847 for more information
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Francois Fillon is planning on setting up a breakaway group in Parliament. They will call themselves ''Rassemblement -UMP'' The term means rally or bring together. Fillon would only abandon this plan if there was another vote [ which Sarkozy appears to back] but this seems unlikely, Cope is refusing to think about it. This is all something that has been waiting to happen and I am sure if more right wing Cope had not got in he would have gone along the same lines with his followers. All very interesting and is it all playing into Marine Le Pens hands and  plans. Well it takes our mind of Francois Hollande's troubles with the economy for awhile.
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Flocons et chute de neige, au Tarn

Snowfalls in the Tarn "flocons et  chute " flocons, snow flakes, chute, heavens open. With temperatures falling steadily for the coming weekend, our idyllic autumn is over. Do not let the gloom of winter descend, there is lots happening in the region and if you wrap up warm and take a hike there are still glorious colours to be seen. The warmth and ambience of the Folk / Jazz Club is tonight and there are so many Marche de Noel's coming up, Telethon events  and there are restaurants still open. Go back to England for winter ... don't make me larf !
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Limousin are laughing ... but what about us?

Here's the latest from satellite expert John Sidwell of BigDishSat in the Limousin, at 9.30 this evening.  It seems the waiting is not yet over, despite the deadline of the 26th having been and gone...

"Well, I imagine you're all wondering about the new satellite, Astra 2F which is due to take over from an existing satellite that brings us BBC and all the other domestic UK channels?

It's now in place at 28 degrees east but, so far, hasn't been brought into full operation so it's no change yet. One particular HD transponder has been fired up and it will bring 2 regional variations of BBCOne to Freesat/Sky/FTA. From what I've measured here, there is no discernable difference so ... if this particular transponder is typical ... we can sleep easy in our beds in the Limousin and all points north.

Anybody in the south of France waiting to buy a satellite system and not sure what size dish to buy ... I would wait a bit longer."
Val say, we are not that far from the Limousin, perhaps we will be safe.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Varen resident's interesting Ancestor

Chris Barlas is a  full time Varen resident so that qualifies loosely for this next bit of news. Talking to him recently I discovered that he is a writer, having authored many television and radio drama scripts, as well as much miscellaneous journalism. He was also very active on behalf of writers in the major UK writers’ organisations. Writing seems to run in the family because Chris’s great grandfather, John Evelyn Barlas, was a Scottish poet of the 1890s, closely associated with the decadent and aesthetic movements. He was also a socialist, a leading speaker at some early meetings of what became the Labour Party, but gradually embraced anarchism. Described as a “bosom friend” of Oscar Wilde (whose short work The Soul of Man under Socialism appears to have been heavily influenced by John Barlas), he moved in London literary circles, rubbing shoulders with the likes of WB Yeats, Ernest Dowson and Lionel Johnson. Sadly from his early thirties he increasingly suffered from bi-polar disease, which, during manic phases, led him to frequent run-ins with the police, once being bound over on Wilde’s assurance. He ended his days in a Scottish asylum outside Glasgow. Today, his poems are little known but a biography published this year aims to put that right.

Oblivion! is it  not one name of death?
Nay, is not lethe death's most dismal name,
Death growing hour by hour within our frame,
Death settling slowly in our brain, the breath
Of the soul ebbing, so that he who saith,
I am to-day as yesterday the same,
Lies, for his thoughts are fled like smoke from flame,
And like the dew his sorrow vanisheth.
Changed is the river, though the waves remain,
Which rocks of slowlier-changing circumstance
Plough up in every day of chafing foam.
Changed is the river, gone,gone to the main,
Yesterday's dream and last year's happy chance,
And the hear't thoughts again return not home.
John Evelyn Barlas
It is so thought provoking ... and relevant and it certainly makes me want to read more.
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Every little helps

From the sale of honey pots 20 euros will be being sent to the Donkey Sanctuary , Liberte des Anes.
Many thanks readers.    
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Telethon on TV

The 7th and 8th of Dec. will see a  television marathon with 5 national chaines taking up the cause for 30 hours of  air time trying to raise money in the nations Telethon. The 5 presenters ( animateurs) will be  blonde 49 years old Sophie Davant, Nagui, Damien Therenot and Laura Tenoudji. Laura I know as '' Laura du Web '' on Tele Matin, France 2 where she gives an account of any interesting websites or interesting U tube snips.  How many of us know those names as we know Terry Wogan?
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Quad bikes at La Fouillade for Telethon

On the 8th of  Dec. starting at a "bonne heure" 8am take your Quad bike, or go to watch,  starting in the Place de la Mairie. All in aid of Telethon. Then at midi a  repas for 25 euros. More information on 0565814553
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Toulouse, the place to be for Christmas on Friday 30th Nov.

The Marche de Noel with 125 wooden chalets in the Place  du Capitole will  open on Friday 30 th to 26th Dec. The Christmas season starts  in earnest with a " geant boule de neige" in the Place Saint George and 140 spectacles and animations on the theme of magic and illusion. After the launch of the special lighting effects and illuminations at 19.15 a circus troupe will walk suspended in the Square de Gaulle. A plastic structure made from recycled material in the style of 1900 will be on view and from 14.30 to 18.30  jugglers,magicians and acrobats will be performing under the  giant dome.
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Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Carols with the Choir of Parisot

I’m writing to let you know about two services of Lessons and Carols with the Parisot Choir under the baton of Peter Nowfel, as follows :

·         At the Church of St. Etienne in Cajarc (Lot) at 4 p.m. on Sunday 9th December
·         At the Church of St. Andeol in Parisot (Tarn-et-Garonne) at 5 p.m. (please note the time difference) on Sunday 16th December, followed by mulled wine at the village hall.
 Vanessa Couchman
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Original art at Sotheby's

If you love art and paintings you maybe interested in checking out a forthcoming sale at Sotheby's in London on 12th Dec. A collection of Michael Winner's original art work relating to childrens books is being auctioned. Michael Winner never seems to be anything but rude but he must have some redeeming features if he could collect such wonderful images. Check out Sotheby's .com and drool.
This post has no relevance to France other than I know there are many artists in the community.
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Musicals and Opera at Mas del Sol 2013

The 2013 Music and Opera dates are being announced today with a fanfare. I am sitting miming trumpet noises. ( "Don't be rude Neville," said in my Joyce Grenfell voice)
January   15th a Tuesday evening        West Side  Story     rumble starts at 6.30 pm
February 12th   Tuesday                       Les Miserables                                6.30pm
March     12th    Tuesday                   Opera  / The Magic Flute                   6.30pm
April       16th     Tuesday              Finishing the season on a high with    Mamma Mia  6.30pm
                                                        For this event a  " Sing  along for Sautou " is planned  ... not for the faint hearted.
Please come and support us in our efforts to raise money for Sautou, and to pass the winter months with friends. Many new friendships will be made I am sure.
Bookings are now being taken, everyone gets a comfortable seat, drinks and  substantial aperos for  10 euros
Contact  Val    mail@       and remember seats are limited so book early.

Get your skis dusted

L'hiver et la neige arrivent enfin, winter and the snow have arrived at last in the Pyrenees   As long as it stays  in the mountains, we will be happy
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Was he killed in France in 2004

Yasser Arafat died whilst in France in 2004  age 74. After many years of circulating rumours that Arafat was poisoned, the family are having the body exhumed from its resting place in the West Bank at Ramallah. The exhumation will be presided over by French Judges and one of the things they will be looking for is  polonium, a radioactive, toxic substance.
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Monday, 26 November 2012

It will all end in tears, and it did.

Just about everyone went home in tears, and said how much they had enjoyed the evening.  A young Placido Domingo had us in his thrall and an annoying fly in the first half was obviously taken with Domingo's nose, Mirella Freni as Madame  Butterfly  was wonderful. Gill Catterall excelled herself  making  sushi  followed by cheesecake. From the evening  and from the sale of honey pots so far we now have 190 euros for those African children.  One more Opera evening and one of ballet still to go before Christmas.
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Gill Catterall's sushi

Is a split in the UMP on the cards?

The UMP are still at loggerheads. The leadership dispute between Francois Fillon and Jean Francois Cope still rumbles on with Fillon saying he will  take the battle to the courts. Accusations a of fraud and bad faith have been slung between the two.
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If you don't want to know the score , look away now

Zlatan Ibrahimovitich scored 4 goals against England a couple of weeks ago and is  Paris St. Germaine  (PSG' s ) talismanic striker, largely instrumental in their being top of the football  league.
France  " Rugbymen" have so far won all their Autumn Internationals including thrashing Australia.
Malc's  interesting news snippet !
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The 26th and the tele is still working.

I wonder if this means we  are safe ?
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Tony Coles replies
Just back from UK and fresh off the press is that Astra 2F has just about arrived at its permanent orbital position at 28.2ºE. There will now be a short period of testing and it is believed that the channels currently on the Astra 1N will migrate to the 2F over 3 days commencing 23 November. If it's right, all those channels will be transmitting from the 2F from 26 November. Reports from southern Europe will no doubt start from today so again watch this space (it might be the only space to watch!!).
Val says . Oh! no and I thought that meant we were safe, but at least we will know by the end of the week.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Enjoy your taste test, in the interest of science !

I have read the various comments on

TAG  but in
essence, Bordeaux has better wine growing terroir, grape varieties 

conducive to making what the world perceives as fine wine and much, much

more money, which mean it can buy better equipment, be more selective etc.,

so inevitably it will mainly make better wine.  Obviously there is some good

Gaillac and much poor Bordeaux. In the interests of science, I will do some

taste tests between the best Gaillacs I can buy here[England] and equivalently priced

Bordeauxs and let you know what conclusions I can draw. 

I suspect your doctor's preference for St Emilion over Gaillac may owe more

to tannins than acidity.  Based on my entirely unscientific observation, it

seems that highly tannic wines exacerbate arthritic conditions.  Now the

indigenous grape varietals of the Tarn (Braucol, Duras and Syras) all have

thick skins, mean wines made from them are more tannic (when young).  St

Emilion is made principally from Merlot, which it thinner skinned and thus

produces less tannic wines.  This could be tested by drinking some red

Burgundy, which is made form Pinot Noir, a very thin skinned, but quite

acidic grape and seeing the effects.

Incidentally, what was the relevance to your recent reference to the 2009 Ausone?


Val says  
The Ausone was picked simply because it was the first expensive wine that came up on google and it was bottles of 2009 St. Emilion which were stolen at Montauban , nothing scientific about it.
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Donkeys cannot be beaten

Hi Val,
My husband, a friend and I went to the Donkey Sanctuary lunch you mentioned on TagLines a few days ago; it was great!  The cause is very good; Jan gave us a nice tour of the premises and inhabitants, with some very moving stories.  The lunch was excellent and company very genial.  Highly recommended.  Couples, singles and groups of friends would find themselves very comfortable in the ambiance.  A lovely drive through Quercy Blanc to the other side of Tarn & Garonne...
Best regards,
Maggie Herbert, Promilhanes and North Lake Ainsle, Nova Scotia Canada
Val says
That was exactly our experience when we went Maggie, what a day out and what a lunch. If you have the chance readers,  think about going next year, we certainly will go again.
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I'm the friend that accompanied Maggie and Bill to the donkey rescue farm for lunch. I agree 100% with was a great lunch, we visited with very nice people, and most importantly, we were introduced to some beautiful and sweet donkeys! Definitely a good cause!     Evelyn
Val says It is worth readers hearing what a good day out it is so next year they can put it in their  ''What to do for a day out folder'' if they have a gite. I wonder if the very old  big donkey with the ''gummy smile'' is still alive, called Savana I think ?

December 8th La Fete de l' Immaculee Conception

Feast of the Immaculate Conception on the 8th Dec.
In the city of Lyons this is celebrated as  "La Fete De La Lumiere "( festival of light) said to commemorate the Virgins intervention to prevent the plague reaching Lyons in the middle ages. People put out rows of  candles in coloured glasses on their window sills, so all the centre is ablaze with flickering lights.
This reminds me of a similar evening we experienced in Pisa when our daughter was studying at Pisa University. On June 16th every year at sunset the Pisans light wax candles and place them in their windows, over 70,000 candles. The leaning Tower is also lit, as is the river Arno with floating candles. The Festival is called  " Luminara of St. Ranieri  and it is to celebrate San  Ranieri, the Citys Patron Saint.
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Monday sees the start of the Opera Season

Tomorrow evening those lucky enough to order tickets before the sell out will be from 6. 30 pm  enjoying an evening at the Mas del Sol multi plex. Starting the season with Madama Butterfly and a forty year old production starring a young Placido Domingo. Along with drinks and nibbles, boxes of tissues will be provided.. All proceeds  to African Children. Our thanks to Gill Catterall for coming up with and executing some very novel and appropriate nibbles, all ready for the evening.
We are already taking bookings for the New Year when as well as showing Madama Butterfly from the Met 2008 , an Anthony Minghella production, a series of Musicals is planned. West Side Story, Les  Miserables and for that feel good factor " Sing along for Sautou with Mamma Mia " Malc and I plan on going away for that one . ( joke)

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Folk / Jazz Club Thursday 29th

Once again at the Salle des Fetes at le Riols, we are on course for another evening of music unplugged. Charles And Anna Ketteringham have as usual got a full evenings entertainment booked so all you need to do is come along with your  two euros, bottle of wine for your consumption and glasses and hey presto away the evening will roll. Charles asks me to give a reminder to wear your thermals as although the hall has heating the forecast is to be a chilly night. Good thought Charles.
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News from the Domaine

A packed hall /barn at the Domaine of Sautou last night Saturday saw amongst others Miss Rodez ( not Aveyron)  on the cat walk.. A nice addition to the cat walk models were  some of the children and young people of Sautou. If you do not know Jean Marie and Winnie Nosal, as well as funding a hospital and school in Mali, take in and look after  French children damaged or with social problems here in France. A group of  TAG readers nine women, two French, one Dutch and one man ( not Malc, who chose to watch the rugby) went to support the couple and the association's efforts. You cannot go and see the place and come away untouched and I was delighted that our group after the evening have come away with their own ideas for fundraising. Jean Marie told us that he is still planning on going in about ten days time to Bamako and so everyone will be concerned about him.  We will wish him well and await with interest his report on his return.
Miss Rodez

 Picture shown (left) of part of the group of mixed nationality but all TAG readers, from left to right, Anke Terbruggen [Dutch] Anne Claire [French] Gill Catterall, Jill Spearman, Therese Gautier {French] and the brave man Roger Bowen.
And as an afterthought  I was able to present a cheque this  week  for another  100 euros from TAG readers. So thank you.

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Saturday, 24 November 2012

Christmas Concert at Salvetat Des Carts

There will be a Christmas Concert at the l'Eglise at Salvetat des Cartes on the 22nd of Dec. at 4pm [16hr] Sally Bradshaw, an opera singer  who now lives at Najac [ lady with a golden voice]  will be singing. Afterwards mulled wine will be served.  What a lovely way to start the Christmas festivities. As I have been asked by many about this concert I suggest getting there early would be an excellent idea.
Salvetat des Carts is in the commune of Najac, just off the D106 which becomes the D47. It is 25 kms from St.Antonin.

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Honey pots, could be money pots. / ALL SOLD

It is very hard to find small inexpensive gifts for family and friends at Christmas time but I  may be able to help you out.
Below is a selection of honey pots, all in perfect condition which I am selling for charity and you can choose  when you buy one if you want the money to go to African children or Liberte des Anes, a donkey charity in the Lot. They can be wrapped and posted to you or  gift wrapped to a recipient of your choice, post and packing would be extra for this option. Just to buy the "sweet, cute honey pots" would be 10 euros and I can arrange delivery points around the area. All the pots have a lucky bee on the lids and by confirming your order I will put one aside for you. It is not possible to pick and choose, they are all equally nice and you or your chosen recipient will be delighted with any. Each one also has a small printed certificate stating which charity you have chosen.
To order Contact Val            mail@         to arrange pick up point and payment.

Click on picture for larger image.

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Happy to promote your enterprise

I am happy to promote your enterprise for free as long as you think about giving me a donation to Via Sahel and the children of Mali , my current charity, if you feel that you have gained customers from the post. That way you only have a bit of pain knowing you have had gain. If you have a house for sale or gites to rent I ask 30 euros for  my charity. Every time I give a mention or even receive a query about who to use and you get some work from it please think that must be worth 5 or 10 euros to Val. I prefer this way than charging for a mention, then you know if you have results. Thanks
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Winter flowering Iris

Planted in the Spring, this winter flowering Iris in full bloom. I bought this plant with other unusual Iris, variegated leaf and a couple of pink flowering Iris. I am sure they benefit from the manured soil although generally  they do not need good soil. Iris is certainly one of the garden plants that does extremely well in our cold winter / hot summer situation. Looks like there is some weeding to be done ... Malcolm .
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Hill top closed at Bugarach

The mountain top Pic de Bugarach in the Aude will be closed by orders of the Prefecture from 18th of December to the 22nd of December, should that date arise!
Cannot really put it in label "Fait divers " which is crime news so how about " End of World News"
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Is it just the French MP's I wonder?

A report in the Telegraph says that French MP's have been caught playing poker and chess on their tablets whilst in the National Assembly. The swines ! God forbid that anything like this would take place in a British Parliament. Oh! no Brits have a sense of decorum unlike the French apparently and they are probably too busy working out their expense claims.
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Frankie Dettori temporarily banned from riding in France

Frankie Dettori has been temporarily banned from riding in France after a possible suspect drug sample. His case comes before the Medical French Racing Committee this week.
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Friday, 23 November 2012

Knickers found in his car.

Well that seals it for me , what elderly lady would be seen without her "petite culottes"  Jean - Louis Cayrou, Patricia Wilsons gardener  and lover is being kept in Prison at Nimes until his trial. A new bit of information is about her knicks being found along with her blood in his car. Poor Patricia Wilson of Vabre Tizac has never been found, but we know from previous posts that the quantities of blood found in her kitchen means that she could not be alive, and now with this new release  of news about her knickers ...
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Vigneron shot and killed whilst tending his vines in the Gard

I hate these stories but they are always happening in the winter "chasse" months. It never seems so bad when they shoot each other but so often it is an innocent bystander.
The elderly vigneron of 70 years working in his fields tying his vines took a bullet to the stomach and died afterwards in hospital. The chasse were  out hunting sangliers 15 miles  from Arles. It will be classed as a " homicide involuntaire"  an accidental killing. I have already done a post about how the chasseurs have to take tests, trouble is half the ones I see around the lanes here do not look bright enough to know their names, never mind write them. One wonders what the test is like and are these hunters banned from drinking at lunch time before going out in to the fields  again.  I know sangliers and deer need controlling but the stories one hears about the chasse make you think there must be safer ways.
Give me a live  vigneron and a problem with sangliers any day.
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A bit more info. on the Catalogue raisonne needed

The family of a painter, (who died at the end of the last century and close to the famous Ecole de Paris), is looking for a young person, male or female, with a background in Art History or Fine Art, to produce a catalogue raisonné of his work and to write a 20/25 pages article on him. Free boarding and lodging during 3 to 4 months at le domaine du Sautou. Contact le Sautou at  <>.
Thanks a lot in advance. And hopefully see you to-morrow.
Val says
 As tomorrow is the fashion show at Sautou
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Le Theatre a Parisot

Juste un petit rappel... Le théâtre à Parisot, c'est demain soir... venez nombreux avec vos amis, vos voisins, vos familles... ceux qui veulent découvrir ou aiment le théâtre... 
L'Association "Rencontre et Partage" vous convie à assister à une répétition ouverte au public de "La Chatte Sur Un Toit Brûlant" de Tennessee Williams, samedi 24 novembre à 20h30 - Salle des fêtes de Parisot - 
A demain
Isabelle BOUVIER

Mayan calendar
Riet Oken has had an article published on the Mayan calendar in an American magazine. Click the link to view.
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Cheaper by the dozen

Chateau Ausone,  a small village in St. Emilion has the 2009 red on sale. The grand Premier Cru of course, per 75cl bottle  £1,749,  pack of three  £5,248 but for a dozen,  so much cheaper £20,994
Malc is wondering if we could get it on the sante ?
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Restos de Coeur

Literally meaning  "Restaurants of the heart"  start collecting today in Supermarkets etc. The main activity is to distribute packets and tins of food and hot meals to the hungry and needy. It was founded by the comedian Coluche in 1985
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Val says
Read the post above and then this one and does it make you think there is something wrong in a world where a person could swill a bottle of wine at  more than a £1,000 when other kindly folk are collecting tins of beans for the hungry and often homeless [ Vals thought for the day!]

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Songs and Aperos at Christmas

Fifi sticks to tradition

Having mulled it over carefully the FiFi ladies have decided that mice pies are too
 avant garde for their Christmas Carol concert so will stick to the more traditional 
mince variety. Thus the local mouse population is safe and Val’s cats will just
 have to miss their Christmas treat.
It should be noted that in addition to FiFi’s very own all ‘girl’ singers, the choir
 from St Antonin will also be performing plus the children of Verfeil singing 
in English. Audience participation will be encouraged.

Mice are welcome to attend at their peril.
Looking forward to seeing many of you there.

Linda Hatfield
President FiFi.
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Segala in the Lot, in Aveyron and the Tarn and Tarn and Garonne

Sue Carter sent a link to her blog which starts with a sunset in Segala. I know she lives in Tarn and Garonne  but I know there is a Segala in  the Lot and Aveyron and also one in the Tarn. So I was interested to what the  meaning of ''Segala ''  was and it appears to mean ''fields of grain'' There is often another meaning which someone else may supply. It is a bit like our name ''Mas del Sol'' which we take the Spanish view of  '' house of the sun'' as we are often in the sun with the brouillard down below in the  river valley. You pays your money and you takes  your choice on these things.
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Jill Spearman says as Sue
'Segala' comes from the word
'seigle', French for rye, and it refers to the fact that the area known as
le Segala in the Tarn was suitable only for growing rye, being too cold and
exposed and the soil not right for wheat or other kinds of grain.  

Could my last post be December 21st 2012

An ancient Mayan calendar has predicated the end of the world on Dec 21st 2012.
The only place to be left untouched  is the sleepy village of Bugarach in the foothills of the Pyrenees, here in France. The 176 residents seem to be taking it all in thier stride and carrying on with their normal jobs and lives, but they are expecting an influx of people come the time, even if it is just reporters.
Do I put this in the label "barmy news" or Fait divers, decided on "End of World News"
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Summer on the ski slopes

November the 24th sees the start of the sking season or it would do if the slopes had some snow. Sunny weather is not what the ski resorts want to see at this time of the year. I know many readers who like the sking in the Pyrenees so when the snow comes I will make a post.
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Festivities with Fifi

Fifi Songs and Aperos.

Donkey Sanctuary holding one of their Super lunches

This Sunday and Monday 25th and 26th November, we are holding an Open House with a special lunch menu.
Please come along for 12.30, bring some friends and help us raise funds for this very worthy cause. Each week we receive calls to help a poor donkey, either malnourished, lonely or ill treated, but our funds are already spent on keeping our 27 donkeys fit and healthy.  many of the donkeys who live here have come
direct from the butchers yard where they have missed death by only a few days !
During the recent winds we exprienced we lost a lot of fence stakes as some were 12 years old, so we have had to renew this fencing.  We are buying hay weekly to feed our 27 donkeys.  We have just called in the vet to geld a donkey to make him more friendly to his friends as he was becoming out of control with too many ladies around him !, all big vets bills which include our annual vaccinations against equine flu and tetanus, worming etc.  Yesterday we had a visit from our bare foot trimmer who will be returning in a few weeks time to trim back another group of donkeys hooves.   All high ongoing costs. 
You will enjoy a sumptuous meal with as much as you can eat and drink for only 10 euros.  for our regulars you will see a small increase but this is to cover the ever increasing food costs. 
Please reserve your place so we know how many people to cater for.  Email us or phone to leave a message on 05 63 94 38 47 to let us know youre coming.
Come along aswell tomorrow, Friday 23rd, 11 to 3 to La Sirene in Montaigu de Quercy for a sale of lovely goods from many different suppliers, just in time for  Christmas.
 Thank you for all the support you give us.
 jan lemmy
Phone Jan for directions to Lavolvene if you have nort been before.
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And it does look interesting.

I've just received a flyer from the following website :-
It's brilliant !!
says Alice Smee

Can readers who know, send Catherine this information please

Catherine McArthur says

I am new to the area but wondered if you could help, I need the metal Gutter drain that fits under the tiles to catch the water, I have a place near Lagarde Viaur do you know a shop near to me also do you know any computer repair shops?
Any help would be gratefully appreciated.
I read your site nearly every day it is very informative.
Regards Catherine
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It looks as if a trip to Villefranche is called for, Catherine. Any of the big builders merchants on the Montauban road will have the zinc gutters, but it is a professional job to fit them.
As for computer repairs we used 3A who are a business supplier and maintenance company just by the roundabout leading on to the same road (there is a big electrical appliance seller next door). 

Another French hostage taken in Mali

Jean Marie Nosal is planning a trip to Bamako  in two weeks time to check up on operations which he oversees at the hospital and school he has helped to set up. This is amidst fears of further possibilities of kidnapping by Qaeda groups. There are six  French hostages being held so far but the latest hostage was taken in the region of Kayes at Diema, not far from Bamako. Jules Berto Rodriquez Leal although born in Portugal had become a French National. He was driving his Peugeot car when he was attacked by  a group of armed men. After the coup earlier this year two thirds of the country is now under Islamist control. Mali is Africa's second largest gold mining area but one of the poorest countries in the world.
Amidst worries of further kidnappings we wonder if Jean Marie of the Domaine de Sautou will still continue with his planned trip. A Police Official in the area warns French Nationals not to travel there.
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Wednesday, 21 November 2012

In Defence of Gaillac wine

At the risk of stirring up a hornet's nest I must come to the defence of our local Gaillac wines. As in any wine growing area there are some stinkers, but there are also some gems. (Bordeaux has it's stinkers as well; the difference being that theirs tend to be more expensive than those from Gaillac.)
Just because the grape varieties are different from those used in Bordeaux, Cahors and for that matter the Rhone valley does not imply inferiority. In fact the principle grape varieties grown in Gaillac have stood the test of time since many go back to the Romans. If kept and aged properly they stand up to the wines from any of the other regions. If one looks for those red Gaillacs that have been aged in oak barrels as have most drinkable Bordeaux they stand up very well indeed.
No disrespect intended, but your Doctor doesn't know what he's talking about Val. My thoroughly non thorough search on Google tells me that there's nothing to choose between the acidity of Bordeaux vs Gaillac. St Emilion is lovely wine at its best so more power to your elbow so to speak.
I will end this little tirade by mentioning a recent tasting. There was a whole bus load of FiFi ladies and their husbands who went to Linda & my favourite Gaillac winery after a recent lunch in Albi. They bought many many cases of both the white and the red. There was no duress just good wine! 
As for Nouveau or Primeur I say a plague on both of them.
David Hatfield
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Sue Carter says

Sue also says perhaps TAG needs a label for Vineyard Reviews
Val says
How about label  Food, Wine and Vineyard Reviews.

I would like James to be busy ... but

Hi Val
 People might like to know that the deadline is approaching......
"All frequencies from Astra 1N are expected to be transfered to Astra 2F between 23-26 November, 2012."
Whilst on my surprise birthday trip to Marrakech last week I was admiring all the Portuguese made 1.6metre diameter satellite dishes (that I may or may not need to install in the near future!)
James Sweeting
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The French love chocolate

Top four in the list of French favourite desserts
1.  Chocolate Fondant
2.   Chocolate Mousse
3.  Crepe .. . trad. not with chocolate
4.    Iles flottantes
The healthy fruit salad came out 12th
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Politicians exploiting racial tension.

A report in News 24 ( France Vingt Quatre )  discusses the alarming rise in "Islamophobia" with a rise in racial attacks and political statements over the last two years. Politicians  have been exploiting the racial tension in the search for votes. Living here in our somewhat cloistered ex -pat community, unless we have some incident like the Mohammed Merah Toulouse shootings, we struggle to keep up with the knowledge and news  of  "the real France" Interestingly as we get to know and get invited to the homes of more and more French families we realise that after food, politics is the hot topic and in that conversation  Muslims in France are often  discussed. I wonder how many ex- pats, second homers etc. are even interested. Do we enjoy the sun, the relaxed atmosphere and want to continue our retirement without the knowledge of   "stressful subjects"  If you are happy living in a bubble or you think you are interested in life outside our circles please let other readers know. There is an easy comments  button now.
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Violent death at Cahors

A young mother  from Cahors, Christel Fabre  26 years old. was shot yesterday by her partner who was drunk when arrested. Three rounds were fired from a rifle  " une arme de chasse" Three young children of the couple were in the house at the time. Three other children, one of the Mother's, two of the Father's were already in care.  Dysfunctional families are here in France just as they are in England.
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Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Stephane Grappelli and Django Reinhardt

Stephane was French, born in  Paris in 1908. Django Reinhardt was Belgium born in 1910 and spent his youth in gypsy encampments around Paris playing his banjo.
Stephane, jazz violinist extraordinaire formed the "Quintette du Hot Jazz Club de France" in 1934 with Django.  Django had been playing banjo but changed at this time to guitar.
The style of jazz guitar popularised by Django is often called " manouche".  The two young  French guitarists  from Toulouse  who are very keen and coming to the Folk / Jazz club 29th Nov. say  this is the style  that has inspired them and they like to play. So let's hope they inspire us and  Charles gives us a bit of Stephane Grappelli.
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Jean- Francois Cope wins through.

In an election where in some communes there were more votes than voters and with a call of fraud from both sides, the right wing candidate Jean - Francois Cope has won through to become the new President of the UMP.
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Did Val say her favourite was St. Emilion ?

The  night before last a lorry was parked at Albusud, Montauban  packed with bottles of  " Grand Cru, St. Emilion 2009 "  Yesterday morning the driver discovered the back doors broken open and 300 bottles destined for China had been stolen. In the Depeche it was described as " un cambriolage audacieux"
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Monday, 19 November 2012

Scorn Gaillac wine at your peril.

Peter Caborn says
A very, very mild tut-tutting for going on about Beaujolais nouveau whilst  mentioning Gaillac Primeur only en passant.  Two years ago we tried the Primeur for the first time which far surpassed the Beaujolais.  Last year the difference was even greater  [Can't say about this year but I haven't found a Primeur as good as the last two years.]  Support the local producers I say and buy direct from the Domaines.
Val says
I try never to drink Gaillac... gosh that will get you all tut-tutting. I have a problem with gastric reflux and was advised by the specialist not to drink Gaillac especially the white, the grape used makes the wine very acidic. He recommended Bordeaux  red and that's what I try to stick to , as it works for me. It was very amusing as when I said I could not drink wine instead of saying '' never mind'' he started discussing vineyards and which wines would be best. St. Emilion is my preference.! I generally do not think much of Beaujolais Primeur but I'd better say no more.
Peter continues
I think a bigger story is the trend in Gaillac area for younger producers who are starting to break away from the strict historical controls on what they include in their vintages to take a punt on producing better more interesting wines.
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Twenty six years of Telethon

Not just "Children in Need " time in England but here in France it will soon be "Telethon" time. The French work really hard raising money for medical research and the Pompiers especially will be seen in your towns and villages shaking their tins and asking for donations.
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UMP pick new leader with a bit of chaos

It is impossible to say who has won the leadership of the UMP this morning  as the counting is still going on although both candidates say they are the winners. Francois Fillon and Jean Francois Cope have given us some fiery rhetoric over the last few weeks. Fillon is more moderate than far right  Jean Francois Cope who is not afraid to pick up the rhetoric of Marine Le Pen.
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Sunday, 18 November 2012

Social charge on rental property in UK

Dear Val.....................very glad to hear someone has had their social charges on UK rental/property dropped.; did they give any clues as to how they succeeded as several of us are still battling with the Montauban tax office and Mr Gullotin (quite a appropriate name under the circumstances).
 However I guess if a precedent has now been set there is always the possibility that more of us maybe lucky.
 Thanks for all the information that has filtered through from Taglines with regards this issue.
Christine Hargreaves.
Val says
I will phone the lady who has achieved it tomorrow to see if she can offer any help.
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Monday evening
Have just phoned the lady to discover her pleasure is with her social charge on pensions being reduced and she has not actually heard anything about the UK rental charges. So sorry for all those raised hopes, the fight continues for many... and we still have not had our social charge bill!!

Marche de Noel, Lassalle, Caylus

Milla and Mollis Schulze Elshoff Profile

 Milla and Mollis  Schullze  Elshoff aged 15 have risen to the challenge and would like to submit this piece of "twindividual" art. They were inspired by a Spanish artist Leon Ferrari whose exhibition they visited in Madrid. Both girls as well as being artists are  talented musicians.

''She's banging on again''

I will give every artist that sends a picture a free profile on TAG and a link if they have one, to their shop or gallery or pictures. They will also then go in a label called Artists of the area. The picture will get a full size display in TAG and then will go in the side panel for one year. At the end I will arrange an exhibition of the work in the area. This is an idea to keep the work of the Domaine de Sautou constantly in the minds of TAG readers. If you or anyone you know would like to participate I would be really pleased. We have a few artists working away as I write this.It could make TAG even more interesting and I do like the idea of helping and promoting both artists  of the area and children in Mali.
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Two Christmas Events for Charity

Hi, I'm letting you know about a couple of events coming up. Firstly our Marche de Noel. Catherine Smedley and I have been doing this event for the last 6 years, the children help running a "pas de perdant" tombola, all profits going to Enfants de Bamako. See poster for details.

Secondly one week later  at Le Jardin de la mothe, Salles Courbatiers 12260, I am hosting a christmas wreath making workshop in our barn (heated!). It will be on either sat 8th or sun 9th at 13h. Cost 20 euro per person including a sandwich lunch and refreshments later. Everything will be provided and everyone will create their own "couronne". If these dates don't suit call anyway as I'm extreemly flexible!
Reservation needed. 05 65 81 51 46. Hope to see you soon, Marion.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

DVD,s but on a different basis

I have had a few people mention that they like the idea of the DVD swap but maybe only rubbish DVD's would be taken  and some people may take DVD's  away but never bring any.
To counteract  these problems  we could appoint a duty monitor, taking turns at this . We could buy some sticky labels to go on the case of the DVD saying who the DVD belongs to. After  a few swaps the DVD could be given back to it's original owner. If you took 5 DVD's you would be entitled to take 5 away. Do people think this is a good idea ? and has anyone any further ideas to make it work.
I would be happy to take 5 for starters
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
Gladiator with Russell Crowe
Midnight Express
One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest    Jack Nicholson
Tout Peut Arriver  Very funny comedy (in English possible ) with Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton
Please let me know if you like the idea or have even better  ideas on the subject.
Also if anybody has any videos that they cannot watch due to lack of player we would be happy to have them as our new home cinema would play them.

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Comment from Martin Mackenzie
Regarding your post re DVD swop.  I think it could work. My thoughts are
1. If there is NO LIMIT set to the number of DVDs ( discs) swop-able at any "Swop event" - then it's possible that should some people bring 5, they may want/insist going away with 5. In other words, there may be "circulation problems" where although there are 20 or 30 discs present, not many people get to see them because they are almost immediately commandeered by each swopper as they replace to their same number
2. Following on from this, what if someone brings 5, but only fancies 1 or 2 of the others on offer?
So, would it be more practical if, say over a 6 or 12 month period, people lent their DVDs to the TAG library, and at each event-swop, folk were limited to, say, 3 titles, or 1 box set of multiple discs?  As the library grew, you could possibly increase the number for loan to 4 or 5 discs.
This would allow better circulation as it avoids one-to-one monopoly.

These thoughts are off the top of my head so there may well be 'holes' in this logic—I'm sure many other readers will have their own ideas and likely better ones than these first thoughts of mine.

Katherine Bloomfield wonders
How about something similar to the old fashioned cigarette card swap - I'll show you mine if you will show me yours and maybe we can swap those we don't have. 

Dropped , the charge on rental income in UK

A reader In Varen  is pleased she has now had  the charge originally demanded in France  dropped on her rental property in England. So with their social charge being dropped as well,  she is back to how she was last year.
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Massage at St. Antonin

Autumn has arrived!
Want to get in shape for this transitioning season ?
It is simple. You can offer yourself a healing and relaxing massage.
It is also a good gift idea for a loved one.
Watch this video of neurobiologist Lucy Vincent about the benefits of a wellness massage. Here is the link:
Please, visit our website for details on how to schedule a massage :
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Do you know a post graduate student able to make a catalogue raisonne

Do you know of perhaps a young ( or even not so young ) post graduate student of art  who would be capable of making a catalogue raisonne of 100  or so pictures. This is an opportunity to spend time in a beautiful location in South West France, perhaps 3 or 4 months in a very comfortable gite which is part of the splendid Domaine de Sautou at Castanet. You will be offered full board and a warm welcome from the Nosals and all their family. A reasonable knowledge of French would be important. The period could be in the summer holidays which is the best time to be here in S.W. France. The work would be unpaid, but it is an opportunity to improve your French  and stay in  a fabulous setting with all meals prepared for you to eat with  the family or in the privacy of your gite  from time to time if you wished.
Jean  Marie Nosal  would like to have an earlier catalogue, from many years ago updated . The paintings are by his Father and they are part of  the residue left of which  2,000 paintings have already been donated to a musuem / art gallery.
If you wish to know more but would feel more confident in making the enquiry in English contact
Malcolm or Val at
Or if your fluency in French makes you confident to mail Jean Marie Nosal  at
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Friday, 16 November 2012

Would you give some of your expertise and time.

Jean Marie Nosal and Winnie are a multi talented couple who have spent their lives fund raising for children here in France and also notably in Mali, Africa. They have a web site but what they lack is the time to update and refresh and add information and events etc. Is there any TAG reader with enough expertise to take on this project. Along with raising money all the other small tasks are important and the Nosals know they are finely stretched at the moment and are not too proud to ask us for help. If you think you could be of help please contact

Gill Catterall of the cattery at Milhars and Le Volet Bleu gites has offered to take this on. ''Good on you''  Gill

Roll out the barrel for Beaujolais Nouveaux

The third Thursday in November sees the start of the celebrations for  " la nouvelle collection"  of wine from around the three rivers of Rhone, Saone and Beaujolais. In the streets of Lyon  the wooden wine barrels are rolled around the streets as part of the celebrations. Sadly although what wine there is will be good, there is not much of it. The difficult weather conditions at the start of the year, rain and grele ( hail) have drastically reduced the harvest and many vineyards are on the brink of bankruptcy.
The Gaillac primeurs have also been unveiled.
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Thursday, 15 November 2012

Poppy Appeal went well for Di.

I am delighted to have been able to post a cheque for 103 euros to the Royal British Legion in aid of this year's poppy appeal.  Very many thanks to all those who contributed. Next year I would like to be available at several different locations during the two weeks leading up to Armistice Day.  All suggestions welcome.
Di Hope

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