Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Why did the chicken cross the road?

Because it was wearing its High-Vis vest. To all chicken lovers, is your chicken feeling frozen, not wanting to leave its coop because of the weather or perhaps it is afraid of the dark? Help maybe at hand; just seen this article http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-25497109 on the BBC News website: High-Vis body warmers for chickens. What will they think of next? Jackets for donkeys...
Val says Plain daft, and I do not know if I should feel sorry for the chickens or the owners!
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It gets tougher here all the time if you are not officially retired.

BRITISH early retirees who move to France may have to take out private health insurance from the moment they arrive - after the UK government announced today that it would stop paying their healthcare costs.

The UK Department of Health says the changes will come into effect "probably from April 2014" and follow a consultation this summer aimed at finding ways to save the National Health Service money. 

Val says  It may be worth reading the full article in the Connexion. What is annoying about this,  is if these expats had stayed in England the Health Service would automatically cover the costs of  their healthcare, and so they would have had these costs anyway. 
Malc  makes a valid point that maybe the people would have been paying tax in England to off set costs.
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What do the young French in Cities do on St. Sylvestre?

They burn cars! Manuel Valls is set to deploy 53, 000 gendarmes and extra service personnel
Every country will experience its own excesses on Tuesday evening, in marking the passage of the New Year.
The French have their own peculiar tradition on the feast of Saint Sylvester, as it’s known – burning cars. Valls assured that he would release the figures for the number of vehicles destroyed throughout New Year's Eve.
To keep order on the streets and roads of France, and minimize damage and injury, the government on Tuesday morning announced the deployment of extra resources meaning 89,000 police officers and emergency services personnel will be on duty.

Killed his children, then hung himself in remorse.

British  Julian Stevenson killed his children - Mathew, 10, and Carla, five - apparently in a fit of rage over a custody battle with his French ex-wife. 
He had fled on a pair of roller skates but was found moments later, walking in the street and covered in blood.
The unemployed father had confessed to the gruesome crime "but did not go into details of the motive", prosecutors said after his arrest in May.
"He hanged himself on Monday in a sports hall reserved for inmates held in solitary confinement," a source at the local public prosecutor's office told AFP.
Britain's Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) later confirmed the reports.
"We are aware of the death of a British national in detention in France on 30 December 2013 and we are providing consular assistance to the family,” said a spokeswoman for the FCO.

Les Colonnes at Villevranche de Rouergue gets a good restaurant review

Read the dated  review in TOF's
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Kim's Gym starts 6th of Jan

Kim’s Gym 
It’s that time of year again when we’re all making New Year’s resolutions. If you’ve spent the Christmas period enjoying a bit too much to eat and drink and spending rather too muchtime on the sofa, then you might be thinking about losingsome weight and getting back into shape.
There are no shortcuts, no magic potions, just a simple equation of expending more energy than you take in. We all know it: eating fewer calories (healthy food choices and smaller portions), and burning more calories by exercising -that’s the way to go.
Fortunately, help is on hand, with the very motivational KimIlsley, our local qualified, experienced fitness instructor. For those of you who haven’t been to Kim’s fitness classes before, they will come as a pleasant surprise. A weekly timetable ofclasses to choose from, offering a variety of exercises, from which you can pick and choose, and the flexibility of payingper class or opting to pay a weekly sum and attending as many classes as you like. Kim encourages her clients to work-out to their full potential but also to work to their individual level of fitness. Her classes are fun, inspiring, and most of all, extremely effective. The first class to newcomers is free, so there’s no excuse for not going along and giving it a go!
Phone: 05 63 24 21 72
Day and time
Classes at La Salle Fitness StudioCaylus (82)

9.45 – 10.45
Body conditioning.
To lose weight, gain strength, and get ready for skiing

9.30 – 10.30
Body sculpt.
To tone and strengthen.
10.45 – 11.45
Gentle but effective stretching and toning.

9.30 – 10.30
Dance class.
10.45 – 11.45
Ball work, mat work etc.

Classes at the Salle des Fetes, Montdoumerc (46)

7pm – 9pm

Classes at the Salle des Fetes, Parisot (82)

7pm – 8pm
8pm – 9pm

Classes at the Salle des Fetes, St Paul (46)

7.30 – 8.30

The mystery of a second Lascaux rears its head again

Morning Val,
Thought some of your readers might be interested in this article. I know my late husband would have been very curious to know more. http://culturebox.francetvinfo.fr/le-mystere-dun-deuxieme-lascaux-refait-surface-147327
I wish you and Malcolm, as well as all your readers and contributors a healthy, creative and happy 2014. Enjoy Paverotti tonight

Please note new email address
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2013 saw TAG send over 3,000 euros to charities

Our advertising on TAG, our Opera evenings, in the summer our music events and meals, the TAG Christmas raffle and then just generous donations gave this great sum to be sent off.
We also raised money to have a lost hunting dog called Fanfarone castrated.
Many readers have gone to charity events at the Domaine de Sautou and many others have gone for a day out to Liberte des Anes for what I call their " Donkey dinners"
In 2014 we have added Alzheimers 82  at Montauban to our list of charities to support and a generous 100 euro donation has been sent off but I will add that to the 2014 accounts for the start of year.
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Things do not change

"The English have corrupted the mind of my kingdom. We most not expose a new generation to the risk of being perverted by the language."
Louis XV   ( 1710 - 74)
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Les Françaises ne se font pas faire de lifting

Following on from the book " French women don't get fat" there is another book by  Française Mireille Guiliano, called  "French Women don't get facelifts"
These books have been a great success in America where it appears that Americans think French women are effortlessly beautiful, are innately chic and have well behaved children.
Val says
I think here we must be talking about rich Parisian women, not the farmers wife from Laguepie!
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At a loose end on New Years Eve / St. Sylvestre

Mardi 31 décembre : Cordes - Réveillon Dansant de la Saint-Sylvestre à «l’Hostellerie du Vieux Cordes»
Dîner et soirée : menu à 145 € (boissons incluses). Forfait dîner de gala (avec boissons incluses, petits fours et chocolats) + soirée dansante + nuitée et petit déjeuner (avec rose et ballotin de chocolat offerts en chambre) : de 216€/pers à 236€/personne. Possibilité également d’organiser votre repas d’entreprise de fin d’année à l’Hostellerie du Vieux Cordes (menus de 24,50 € à 46 € par personne). Détails des menus, renseignements et réservation : 05 63 53 79 20 ou vieux.cordes@thuries.fr
Web : www.hostelleriehvc.com Mardi 31décembre : Cordes - Réveillon Dansant de la Saint-Sylvestre à «l’Hostellerie du Parc»
Dîner et soirée : menu à 160 € (boissons incluses). Forfait dîner+soirée+nuitée : 195 €. Forfait dîner+nuitée+déjeuner du 1er Janvier : 230 €
Du 15 décembre au 1er Janvier, l’Hostellerie du Parc propose ses repas de fêtes de 44 à 55 euros, Tél :
Val says  The above  are options at Cordes, places still available.
 For us we have an "auberge espagnol" organised with an Opera after,  Donnizetti' s  " L'elisir d' amore"  with Luciano Pavarotti singing.
If you are celebrating with friends or on your own, have a lovely evening and do stay up to wish in the new year of 2014, when we wish you all  health and happiness.

Monday, 30 December 2013

Advice on woodburning stove

Hi Val

Advice on woodburning stoves?

Could we tap into your readers' knowledge base to see if anyone can

recommend a specialist to give us some advice on our woodburner. We want to

move it to the other end of the house and need some advice on chimney

requirements and whether or or not we need to replace it  with a newer/more

powerful model.

We can be contacted on 0581 400039 or  pebblestherapies@hotmail.com

Thanks for any help you can offer

Love  Linda

Dog Kennels needed

Hi Val,
 Another 2 emails received reference very good interested for the dog kennels.

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How true.

"A man who speaks three languages is trilingual. A man who speaks two languages is bilingual. A man who speaks one language is English."
Claude Gagnière French writer ( 1928-2003)
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I think it is a resounding - yes, go ahead

Horse Livery / Boarding Kennels
Hi Val / Malcolm, 

We would like to take this opportunity to ask a question to the readers of TAG on-line, their friends and family.  We have a house, just outside Verfeil in Coussol Bas, with enough land that we are interested in providing a Horse Livery & Boarding Kennel service. 

We have been advised by one of the Veterinarians at Parisot, that there is a demand for this within the surrounding area.  We have plans to provide 8 stables and 10 kennels.  We are looking to have these built at the latter end of 2014. 

We understand that ‘local’ people travel vast distances to attend to their horses and board their dogs, with a reputable and trustworthy business.  With dogs of our own, we understand the need to sometimes board, when travelling.  More often than not, the burden on friends & family is too much and boarding is the only option. 

Any interest or views would be warmly welcome (bradley.parker@orange.fr).

Kind regards,

Brad & Roberta.

Val says  this advert got 9 ticks.  11 probably the best you could ever hope for.  The couple had two messages 
and on clicks on the internet under the heading horse livery / kennels another 11 clicks.

Burning wood

A couple of days ago French radio appeared to be saying that burning logs might be made illegal in some parts of France in 2015. Does anyone know more about this news item? Should I despairingly hang up the bow saw?
Val says  The French radio had picked this story up from the Daily Mail. NO, THAT was A JOKE
( but maybe not Malc  has found  a very similar story  in that rag - bound to be doom and gloom)

Malc heard a story on the radio which could have been the same one, basically about pollution in major cities. In these cities there is talk about controlling wood burning stoves. It will not happen here in the wilds of Midi Pyrenees. Controlling diesel engine trucks and cars which the world health authority says is the major cause of pollution would help. 
An interesting article in Le Monde about pollution in Paris, there the air would be clearer if it was not for diesel engines. France has more diesel cars than anywhere in the world.
Talking of pollution, have you ever looked down on the Cote d'Azur from up at Grasse and seen the blue purple haze of pollution hanging over the coast.
San Francisco has banned wood burning stoves on days of high pollution levels.
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French Court upholds Millionaires tax

France’s Constitutional Council on Sunday upheld President François Hollande’s “millionaires' tax”, a 75-percent levy to be paid in 2013 and 2014 by companies on their portion of wages exceeding 1 million euros.

The so-called “millionaires' tax” has become a symbol of Hollande’s campaign promise to make France fairer for the middle class by forcing the mega-rich to do more to pull the country out of crisis.
The government’s initial plan consisting of a 75-percent tax to be paid by high earners on the part of their incomes exceeding 1 million euros was struck down in December 2012 by members of the Constitutional Council, who argued that 66 percent was the legal maximum for individuals.
The Socialist government has since reworked the tax to levy it on companies instead, infuriating business leaders and football clubs.
Under its new design, which the Council found constitutional, the tax will be an exceptional 50 percent levy on the portion of wages exceeding 1 million euros paid in 2013 and 2014.
Including social contributions, its rate will effectively remain roughly 75 percent. The tax will, however, be capped at 5 percent of the company’s turnover.
The Council, a court made up of judges and former French presidents, has the power to annul laws if they are deemed to violate the constitution.

Michael Schumacher en danger de mort

Michael Schumacher, le plus titré des champions de l’histoire de la Formule 1été 

 blessé, hier, à la suite d’une chute de ski à Méribel en Savoie. 

En début d’après-midi, ce n’était qu’une chute. Sévère certes, mais les nouvelles étaient rassurantes. De sources officielles, «Schumi», sept fois champion du monde de Formule 1 avait fait une mauvaise chute de ski, en pratiquant le hors-piste en famille à Méribel, en Savoie. Heureusement, il était protégé d’un casque.
Skiing with helmet off piste with his 14 year old old son and friend, Michael fell and hit his head on a stone. This is the top news around the world. On BBC TV we were reminded of a similar accident where Natasha Richardson fell whilst skiing, hit her head, got up and walked away, exactly as did Schumacher. Sadly a few hours later Natasha died.
Val says  there is a slight improvement in Michael's condition after a second operation.

P.G. Wodehouse, taken from the novel " The Luck of the Bodkins"

"Into the face of the young man who sat on the terrace of the Hotel Magnifique at Cannes there had crept a look of furtive shame, the shifty, hangdog look which announces that an Englishman is about to speak French.
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British Corner Shop - clubbing together to place an order

Hi Val

You posted recently on TAG about British Corner Shop, retailers based near Bristol who export British grocery and household goods all over the world. For France their P&P rate is about £12 for 30 kilos, but they halve this if the package contains more than £100 worth of goods, which is really very reasonable, and justifies us clubbing together to place a joint order.  

By comparison, incidentally, ParcelForce would charge £75.54 to ship a 30 kilo package to France. What a difference!

We ordered from British Corner Shop last month, when you and Malcolm joined in to buy your Yorkshire teabags and other bits and pieces.  We shall order again next month, and we wondered if any TAG readers who are also Book Swappers would like to join in, on the basis of sharing the P&P cost pro rata. If so, we should like to bring orders together at the January Book Swap, and then have the goods here to bring to the February one.  

If anyone coming to the Book Swap at the Gazpacho, St Antonin on 6th January would like to join in our group order from British Corner Shop, here's what to do.  

First step: go to the British Corner Shop web site and choose what you'd like.  The address is http://www.britishcornershop.co.uk/.  You can ignore log-in;  just click on Start Shopping or Shop Now and then view products by brand, search by name, or browse by group or by category.  There's a tremendous range to choose from.  

Second step: don't add anything to a Shopping Basket, but instead bring a note of what you've chosen, its brand, size and price, and your email address to the January Book Swap. There won't be anything to pay in advance.  

And that's it!  If you later find you are unable to pick up your order at the February Book Swap, we can make separate arrangements for payment and collection.   

British Corner Shop prices are higher than at Asda or Sainsbury's, but then the goods will be delivered to SW France for next to nothing!

x Chris     

Val says  What a brilliant service for us all. I want to thank Karen and Chris Robinson for coming up with this idea and we will certainly be using it. 
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Sunday, 29 December 2013

A quote from Mark Twain and another from André Gide

"In Paris they simply stared when I spoke to them in French. I never did succeed in making those idiots understand their language."
Val says with a sigh, I sometimes know what you mean Mark.
Malc has been given for Christmas 1, 000 years of Annoying the French by Stephen Clarke so expect the odd quote turning up.
 The quote below from André Gide, French writer and winner of  the Nobel Prize for Literature, makes you think!
"It  is unthinkable for a Frenchman to arrive at middle age without having syphilis and the Légion d' Honneur"
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A piece for Writers in TAG

Doreen / Val
Here is my version of Maggie's story. Hope you like it.

The rain tap, tap, tapped against the windows as Maggie sat in the kitchen sipping her 10th cup of coffee. It was way past noon, yet she was still in her ratty bathrobe and bunny slippers. But she didn’t care. She didn’t care at all.
Maggie tried getting out of the chair for the 3rd time and yet again was unsuccessful. She felt the  top. These sights were experienced as if through someone else, like she wasn’t really there. She might as well be watching a movie for all the difference it made, which was none at all.
Look in Writers in TAG to read more, and we both like it very much Louise.

TAG on food, restaurants to be precise. - TOF's

Hi Val / Malcolm,
 Just an observation with reference the TOF's tab; should these blogs be dated, so that all can see the age of the review?  For no other reason than the chef / proprietor etc. could have changed, thus the possibility of then a totally different experience, either good or bad.
 If the review is somewhat aged, then the experience of attending the eatery could be understood and sympathised, if a totally different experience is received.
Just a thought,
Val says And a very good thought too Brad. I will date them in the future.

I actually bought a runcible spoon in a brocante.

In the Owl and the Pussy cat poem by Edward Lear, the couple set to sea in a pea green boat and then eat with a runcible spoon. In the picture below is a small mustard spoon which set me off thinking of spoons. I had to google to find out what a runcible spoon was.

A three-pronged fork, such as a pickle fork, curved like a spoon and having a cutting edge.
Val says  Malc is quite incensed about my googled description of the spoon. It is a well known fact that the runcible spoon was made up by Lear for the poem. You pays your money and you takes your choice, Malc !

Our first egg from Peck, Eggsotic

I do not know why my mind as gone into "punning" mode but it has. I am sure it will wear off so bear / bare with me, or as Miranda might say " bear with"
The post is about hens and eggs, a popular pastime at the moment keeping hens, in France and England.
Our two, Penny and newbe Peck have settled down together very nicely now without the disruptive influence of thug, Scratch. A friend was telling me that when the poule ( French friend ) "commence à pondre, les oeufs  sont petits." So when the first eggs are laid they are often miniscule. Our hens up till now have always come in a box from Unicor and are at the point of laying "poule pondeuse" already giving decent sized eggs.
This morning I was delighted to find two eggs: one from Penny, big and beautiful,  as is the norm and a tiny little egg from  black Peck, the size of a pigeon's. This is the start of her laying period, and once the eggs get popping out we can expect some heavy double yokers. This always seems to happen till the  hen and her production gets itself sorted.
Do you know there is a book one could write on fascinating hen facts.
Malc says  Fascinating to whom? A very short book.
Big egg, little egg and a mustard spoon.

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A donkey on the loose makes an interesting " donkey tail"

What a relief, it was not one of mine.
I loved this story when a reader told it to me. Last Sunday at the market at St. Antonin the ex gendarme was there with two of his donkeys giving rides. One donkey had been left tied up whilst the other went off with a child on his back. I know from my own donkeys, they like to stay together. The little donkey left behind managed to untie himself and went galloping off down the main street to find his companion, with people jumping out of his way on all sides. I can tell you from experience there would be no stopping that little chap till he found his chum. I was surprised that the second donkey was not tied to the first even though he did not have a child rider, as long as they are together they are calm.
Ah, the delight and pleasure these donkey friends of ours give and  I bet many left the market that day with an interesting donkey  tail/ tale
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Attention skiers in the Alps

Skiers were on Saturday warned to exercise extreme caution after a series of deadly avalanches across resorts in the Alps claimed seven lives in just two day
An avalanche risk of four to five (out of a maximum five) is expected to remain in place for the next few days and skiers and snowboarders have been warned to stick to marked slopes rather than venturing off-piste.
Even on relatively gentle slopes the avalanche risk has in some places been classed as "considerable".
The Alpine Prefecture warned of "a high risk of avalanches occurring spontaneously or triggered by skiers at all resorts in the Alps". Similar warnings were also issued for the French Pyrenees and in resorts in Italy, Switzerland and Austria and came after a series of deadly avalanches on Thursday and Friday which have left six dead.
From the Telegraph
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Another follower of Dieudonné

Nicolas Anelka has never been far from controversy. Throughout his career, the French striker has too often made the headlines for the wrong reasons.
Yesterday, at Upton Park he added another offence to his back catalogue. The Parisian-born forward mixed football and politics and not for a pleasant protest song.
After his first goal in the 3-3 draw at West Ham, his first of the season for West Bromwich Albion this season, he celebrated with his right arm extended towards the ground, palm opened and the other one bent across his chest touching his right upper arm.
The gesture is known as the ‘Quenelle,’ labelled as a reversed Nazi salute and made famous a few years ago by the controversial Dieudonné, a French comedian from African background.
In the last few years, Dieudonné M’bala M’bala, his full name, has become an anti-Semitic activist and campaigner. Dieudonné used the Quenelle for the first time in 2009 when he was a candidate for the European elections at the helm of his own party, the anti-Zionist party, despite arguing that it was a generic anti-establishment symbol.
Val says  Quite a lot on BBC tv this morning about this footballers gesture and his friendship with the anti semitic comedian. 

Streets paved with gold at Cannes

A PENSIONER in Cannes has been praised for handing into police an envelope stuffed with €10,000 in cash that he found on a street in Cannes.

Maurice, a retired optician, had decided to walk home from dinner at his daughter's house after missing the bus.

He saw a packet on the pavement with banknotes spilling out the top and took it home for closer examination.

"There were piles and piles of money. I'd never seen anything like it in my life. I tried to count it all, but there was too much," he told local newspaper Nice Matin.

There were no identifying details on the envelope and Maurice decided to take it to the police station the following morning.

A police spokesman said the man's actions were a great example of civic responsibility - and "also demonstrates trust in the national police".

The envelope will spend six months at Cannes lost property office. If its owner cannot be traced, the money will be returned to the man who found it. - See more at: http://www.connexion.com

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Saturday, 28 December 2013

Truffle time again

On the Midi Pyrenees news we have just watched in the market in Limogne  baskets full of truffles being sold. The news though was not all good with stories of thieves stealing not only the truffles from under the trees but stealing the young trees themselves. The truffle growers have taken to stringing cameras up in the trees hoping to catch the thieves. Truffles are an expensive commodity and specially trained dogs are used to find these culinary treasures. Dogs are probably easier to handle than the pigs which used to be used. A truffle hunting dog can be worth a lot of money and they are sometimes stolen.
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This made me smile

The best-laid plans oft go astray.....
I had been reading the best little book in the world: Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl.  In it he tells anyone who ever asks what's the point of it all, to focus on 2 things: responsibility and attitude for your own life. Ask not what life can offer you, but what you can give to life. So, in this vein (and because 'tis the season) I made some traditional mince pies and decided to give them to 4 neighbours - you remember, those who wanted to shoot the dogs, who complained about a garden bonfire and had never welcomed us. So, first I ventured next door armed with a paper plate of 6 pies covered by cling-film.  Up the drive and up the step, pressed the door bell...but just when the door opened I foolishly stepped back, fell down the step and 5 pies slipped onto the floor!  Him indoors' response later? Do as I did at the medical clinic. What? You remember, when I came out bent over, you asked 'are you in pain? And I said Look at the sign over there. It says Toulouse-Lautrec Clinic, walk this way!

Val says  Ask not what life can offer you, but what can YOU give life. How right that motto is.
 Not  sure what I can give life but I know what I can give donkeys, hay, hay and more hay. ( they would probably also like your mince pies given a chance, Gill)

from Gill Greens blog/ olgaswannblogspot
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In the Medical team for the Commonwealth Games.

Thanks for another year of catching up with French local news in TAG, I really enjoy reading it and smiling at what you get up to over there!!
I hope you all have a lovely party on New Years Eve and look forward to seeing you in the summer.  I shall be a little late this year as I am part of the medical team at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.  I am hoping it will be as enjoyable and successful as the Olympics and that Glasgow weather will be kind......
All love
Jenni Davies

Val says Jenni really enjoyed being part of the medical team in 2012 and after her experience wrote about it on TAG. In 2013 Jenni made TAG headlines again, becoming along with Kevin Scragg Varenly Regatta Winner.
Well done Jenni on now being in the medical team for the Commonwealth Games
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Wooden chest for sale

Hi Val, could you please put this advertisement on tag on line? This one is too big for our new house. Thanks and all the best for you and Malcom and of course tag-on-line for the new year !, Riet and Janet

Caisse des livres rustique et antique. Chene. 2.55x 55  (how would you name it in english?) 400 euro
Photo as attachment
Also a faux (do not know the name in english)  also a photo  25 euro ( scythe)  SOLD

Riet Okken 0563648084

Terribly shelfish... who me?

We needed two turkeys for New Years Eve as we are planning an " auberge espagnol" and I have said I will organise the main course.
This morning finding a parking place at Hyperu at Villefranche took me back to trying to park at the shopping centre in Reading. Twice I was about to drive into a space but was beaten to it so I thought, more assertive driving needed. There was a space, spotted at the same time by a car coming the other way, we both started signaling but I was in the better position and turned and glided in giving Malc a smug smile.
I got out and to my horror the other driver was still there and had rolled down his window to give me a piece of his mind. I rushed up all apologetic explaining in probably not very good French why I had taken such decisive action. The young  Frenchman looked cooly at me and said in perfect although accented English " "but surely those experiences are not to be repeated. I wish you a good day" Did I feel terrible? All around the store which was busy I was fearful of having another brush with him with my trolley.
By the way the heading was spelt that way to remind me to mention the special shellfish " oyster" counter  which was doing a roaring trade.
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Sitting at my piano

It is Malc who sits at his piano, with more success than he or his teacher give him credit for, in my humble opinion. This post is not about a musical piano but our " piano de cuisine" that is what the French call these double oven, multi burner jobbies in the kitchen. Ours gets a lot of praise over a busy visiting period, more praise than our cooking sadly. It was bought 4 years ago from a discount kitchen shop on the edge of Villefranche, on the road to Laguepie opposite the hospital called " destock menagé" .,The cooker was discounted quite a lot because it had a scratch on the side, now hidden behind cupboards. At the same time we bought a dishwasher with a dent in the top which is hidden under the work surface. Might be worth checking if this shop is still there and then checking out the goods... if you are in the market for a piano  ( de cuisine)
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Let us get to the bottom of Pavlova

With regard to this dessert,I was always led to believe that it was Escoffier who invented the dessert for the ballerina . Best wishes for 2014 to all your readers 
 Betty Nuttall
Georges Auguste Escoffier was a French chef, restaurateur and culinary writer who popularized and updated traditional French cooking methods. His best years were working in England at the Savoy in London. Reading about the Pavlova it would appear that Escoffier adapted the dish from Australian or New zealand recipes and it became Pavlova as we know it.
During the summers, Escoffier ran the kitchen of the Hotel National in Lucerne, where he met César Ritz (at that time the French Riviera was a winter resort). The two men formed a partnership and in 1890 accepted an invitation from Richard D'Oyly Carte to transfer to his new Savoy Hotel in London, together with the third member of their team, the maître d'hôtel, Louis Echenard. Ritz put together what he described as "a little army of hotel men for the conquest of London", and Escoffier recruited French cooks and reorganised the kitchens. The Savoy under Ritz and his partners was an immediate success, attracting a distinguished and moneyed clientele, headed by the Prince of Wales. Gregor Von Görög, chef to the Royal family at the time, was an enthusiast of Escoffier's zealous organization. Aristocratic women, hitherto unaccustomed to dine in public, were now "seen in full regalia in the Savoy dining and supper rooms".

The Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova was born on this day in 1885, so there is no difficulty guessing our topic today – ‘thepavlova, the sweet dessert’. There has been a longstanding battle between Australia and New Zealand as to who 'invented' thepavlova, with tempers getting quite nasty at times. This is my contribution to the war.

For those of you who need the clarification, a pavlova as defined by the OED is “a dessert consisting of a soft-centred meringue base or shell filled with whipped cream and fruit.” I would like it put on notice here that the OED, which should be absolutely non-partisan, has clearly allied itself with the “soft-centred like marshmallow” school of thought, in complete disregard for the very vocal opposition school that maintains a pavlova should be thoroughly dried and crisp throughout.

We have established then, that a pavlova is a form of meringue. Neither Australia nor New Zealand invented the meringue, because the meringue was invented before they were. As for meringue, it was not, repeat NOT ‘invented in 1720 by a Swiss pastry-cook called Gasparini, who practised his art in Mehrinyghen [hence ‘meringue’], a small town in the State of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.’ Even the venerable Larousse perpetrates this myth, in complete disregard for the fact that confections made from sweetened, stiffly-beaten egg whites appear in cookbooks printed well before that date. The earliest I can find appears in the recipe collection of Lady Elinor Fettiplace, which is dated 1604, which she calls White Bisket Bread.

Val says Wow!  I did not know cooks could feel so strongly about a dessert. You should see all the posts about it on the net. The information above was from a site called " the old foodie"
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The pretty black spider named

Morning all,

Lovely day for ducks and fish.  I saw the spider picture this morning and I think that it is from the genus Steatoda this particular species is the Steatoda Paykulliana commonly know as false widow spider.  They are so named as they can be mistaken for the black widow spider, Latrodectus.  Both Steatoda and Latrodectus are in the same family of spiders called Theridiidae.

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Two miserables posts, not what TAG wants

Sometimes I  hate searching French news for TAG stories when I am looking for something uplifting to no avail.
Well I do have uplifting news and good stories which often come from the Domaine de Sautou at Castanet. Over Christmas the eight new children there along with all the others who live there on a permanent or semi permanent basis had for some their first Christmas ever.
 When Jean Marie and Winnie arrange anything it is done in style and the large warming dining room above the kitchen is an ideal place for celebrations. The couple were very touched to see the faces of the newcomers enjoying a French Christmas. We are talking about displaced children from all over the world and some French children with family problems.
The children were also able to enjoy the computer given to them by Andrew Media Man  and he has arranged to go in next week to give Mamadou ( one of my friends from Mali) lessons on usage. To help with the language problems Andrew is going to ask Ahad who speaks English and French to be there to help him.
Winnie is pleased that the "120 femmes" scheme is moving along and that we are still getting other ladies involved. ( Look in the label "120 femmes") if you want to read more.
Jean Marie has a trip to Mali planned and will arrange an AGM on his return to give us all the news "direct from the ground"
Jean Marie is 76 now and finding work with the children here exhausting, he goes with a mini bus and takes them and picks them all up from school in term time ! He is thinking he may have to think about retiring from fostering and care work here soon but will work till he dies  for his projects and children in Africa.
 What an inspiring couple.
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The glimmer of hope fading on jobless figures

François Hollande’s credibility is lying in tatters after figures indicated he had failed to deliver on a central government promise to "turn the tide" on unemployment by year's end.
Riding lower in the polls than any of his postwar predecessors, the Socialist leader chose to defy predictions by the IMF, the European Commission and the vast majority of private economists to bank on a turnaround in French unemployment by the end of 2013.
"I will be judged on it," he told the nation in a Bastille Day television interview over the summer, in what even allies said was a deeply risky bet.
On Thursday night, labour ministry data showed that the bet was all but lost as the number of people registered as out of work in mainland France had grown by 17,800 in November to 3.29 million. This almost wiped out the 19,900 fall in the number of jobless in October – a figure that ministers had prematurely insisted was the first glimmer of economic recovery.
The number of unemployed now accounts for more than 10.5 per cent of the working population - perilously close to a record high.
Henry Samuel reporting in the Telegraph

Pedlar of hate

France’s interior minister, Manuel Valls, announced on Friday that he would try to legally ban performances by French comic and actor Dieudonné, who has frequently been accused of anti-Semitism.
Dieudonné is a friend of Marine Le Pen, that says it all.

Performing onstage, Dieudonné said about prominent French Jewish radio journalist Patrick Cohen: “Me, you see, when I hear Patrick Cohen speak, I think to myself: ‘Gas chambers…too bad [they no longer exist].”
Val says  Comic, I think not. Comics are supposed to make you laugh and feel good.

Friday, 27 December 2013

Arachnophobes look away now

Thought the following pictures of a spider we ‘rescued’ during the summer just gone might be of interest for the Wild Photos section. I found this beauty climbing my chest (on my shirt I may add) whilst we were moving rocks around the house.  To say I was somewhat shaken was an understatement to say the least.  After cautiously taking a few snaps, we dropped her off across the road, out of harm’s way. Maybe one of the readers can advise of the specie.
Regards, Brad & Roberta.
For more photos see the "Wild Photos" tab above.

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Lots to do at the beginning of January

Friday 3rd of Jan, the second of the jamming sessions at Parisot, Cafe du Foirail starting around 7.30pm If you play an instrument or sing or like Malc and I just enjoy listening to live music think about going. The first evening was great but I have a feeling as more people find out about it it will be even busier. I am sticking a seat in the back of the car in case all seats are taken.

Monday 6th of Jan at 10.30am is the now monthly book and DVD  swap at the Gazpacho at St. Antonin.

Wednesday 8th Jan. 6.30 pm Mas del Sol  is our Cinema evening, a French film with English subtitles  Enfants du Paradis

Thursday 9th of January 5.30pm   Bridge resumes at the bar Bascule at Caylus

Wednesday 15th of January  6.30pm   Opera at Mas del Sol   The Mikado
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The pavlova is not generally known by the French

Pavlova (pav-LOH-vuh) - The Pavlova consists a base made of a meringue crust topped with whipped cream and fresh fruits such as kiwis (the fruit!), strawberries, etc. It is considered a fresh fruit pie with a meringue crust.
No one knows who first created the Pavlova.  But the name and the recipes first began appearing soon after Russian prima ballerina, Anna Matveyevna Pavlova (1881-1931), toured both Australia and New Zealand in 1926 and Australia again in 1929. Anna Pavlova was considered the greatest ballerina of her time and her visit to New Zealand has been described as "the chief event of 1926." It was said "She does not dance; she soars as though on wings." From this you get the sense that this is a light, airy dessert.
There is a controversary with both Australia and New Zealand. While it has been suggested this dessert was created in New Zealand, it has also become recognized as a popular Australian dish. Both countries claim to have invented this dessert and claim it as their national dish.

Val says our host yesterday Simon knew most of this when he passed information on to one of his French guests

Quiche, sausage rolls in an afternoon - never for the French

 " You English eat anything anytime"  this remark said in a jokey fashion by a French lady yesterday may have saved me from a serious " faux pas" today. ( I would actually say " saved my bacon" but in the context of no savories I thought it might complicate matters)
After lunchtime the French do not eat savoury things in the afternoon. Tea time is just for tea, coffee and cakes and we are told that  French visitors would think us bizarre if we served savories ;  "choses salées"
I had planned along with the mince pies, tarte citron, bouche de Noel to add a few sausage rolls, salted peanuts, crisps etc. but now it will be like " Bettys at Harrogate" at our house this afternoon, tea for two . (well 10 to be precise)
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Best films of 2013 chosen by Jon Frosch

1. “Blue is the Warmest Colour” (Abdellatif Kechiche)When the dust settles, Kechiche’s deep, devastating exploration of first love, heartbreak, and socioeconomic differences in today’s France will stand as a classic. And the director -- his relentless, but compassionate camera pulling us right into Adèle’s material and spiritual worlds – and astonishingly committed and intuitive leading ladies, Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux, will be proud of what they created: the most emotionally immersive film in years, possessed of the texture, sweep and staying power of a great novel.
2. “Inside Llewyn Davis” (Joel and Ethan Coen)The other masterwork of 2013 is a mournful, mordant portrait of an artist who might have been, a talented singer (the wonderful Oscar Isaac) struggling to launch his solo career in 1960s Greenwich Village just before Bob Dylan swept through and stole the show. It’s also the Coen brothers’ best film yet, blending their trademark irony with layers of warmth, mystery and regret, echoed in the glorious folk tunes. The movie is as spry and visually ravishing as anything they’ve done, but it has an ache that feels new.

3. “12 Years a Slave” (Steve McQueen)The director’s previous two films (“Hunger” and “Shame”) were sterile exercises in aestheticised suffering. But this one -- the soul-shaking true story of a free black man kidnapped and sold into slavery – connects powerfully, the tableau-like beauty of its images rendering the horror of what’s going on within them that much more vivid and upsetting. McQueen and his superb ensemble (minus a distracting Brad Pitt) bring us right into the moment-to-moment nightmare of a slave’s life, and brilliantly illustrate a system that poisoned everyone involved

4. “To the Wonder” (Terrence Malick)The most unjustly maligned film of the year found Malick delving into the crises of intimacy and faith plaguing the relationship between a free-spirited European and her stoic Oklahoman husband. Abstract, elliptical and unabashed in its lyricism (Ben Affleck and Rachel McAdams among the buffalo was the single most rapturous shot of the year), the movie is an example of a director single-mindedly pursuing his formal and personal obsessions. It’s also a startlingly lucid examination of the lonely spaces that can open up between people in a couple.

5. “Laurence Anyways” (Xavier Dolan)In this under-seen stunner, 24-year-old Québecois wunderkind Xavier Dolan uses his baroque style (slow-mo, bursts of music, candy-coloured visual patterns) to convey the volcanic inner states of a male cross-dresser and his long-suffering girlfriend (Suzanne Clément, in one of the year’s best performances). Not everything works, but the film is excitingly bold, overripe with pain and passion, and unafraid to dig into tricky questions of gender, identity, society and love.

6. “A Touch of Sin” (Jia Zhangke)
A scorching four-segment examination of violence, corruption and capitalism in current-day China, Jia Zhangke’s film portrays a vast, rugged country of snakes, sandstorms, sex workers, impoverished villages and exploited citizens pushed to acts of destruction. The director plays with various genres (western, crime film, martial arts flick, and romantic melodrama), conjuring images of terror and sensuality that sear themselves into your memory.
7. “Blue Jasmine” (Woody Allen)It may not be one of his all-time greats, but Allen’s latest has a satisfying dramatic heft and a haunting timeliness. The impressive, tightrope-like feat managed by the director and his mesmerising diva of a leading lady, Cate Blanchett, is their ability to elicit continually evolving, and sometimes simultaneous, responses to the film’s financially ruined socialite: disgust, schadenfreude, amusement, affection, and, finally -- as she teeters on the brink of madness -- compassion.
8. “Frances Ha” (Noah Baumbach)Yes, OK, hipsters are annoying. But in his glowing comedy, Baumbach observes the passive-aggressive social behaviours and private yearnings of over-educated, under-employed young Brooklynites with an infectious fondness. The black-and-white cinematography, ambling structure and music owe much to the French New Wave. Yet as a portrait of a twenty-something who stumbles, and then picks herself up, on her belated journey toward adulthood, the film has a charm and rhythm all its own.
9. “Enough Said” (Nicole Holofcener)The best romantic comedy of the year, starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus and a gently magnetic James Gandolfini as middle-aged divorcees who tiptoe into a relationship, gets off to an inauspicious start before blossoming into something unexpectedly sharp and soulful. Holofcener transcends the predictable misunderstandings and coincidences of the plot with the precision of her dialogue and the richness of her insights into loneliness and letting go – of children, exes, illusions, pride and anxieties about ourselves and others.

10. “At Berkeley” (Frederick Wiseman)
The four-hour running time is intimidating, but Wiseman’s documentary provides a fascinating look at the triumphs, troubles and contradictions at the heart of America’s best public university. Without voiceover or talking heads, the director offers fly-on-the-wall access to various facets of campus life -- from Thoreau seminars to lectures on cancer, dance recitals to football games, meetings presided over by the chancellor to workers laying cement – culminating in a student protest that’s the most gripping climax in any film this year.

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Worries about an influx of Bulgarians from the first of January

European countries just do not know when restrictions are lifted on the first of January how many people will want to leave Bulgaria hoping for a better life. A joke circulating in Bulgaria
 " There are two ways to sort out the problems in Bulgaria, Terminal 1 and Terminal 2"
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Strong wind and rain forecast again in England and parts of France

Gales and rain return today in England and this week end disrupting travel with planes, ferries and trains.
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Thursday, 26 December 2013

In the Pyrenees winds recorded of 211km/h

C’est un record qu’a enregistré le Pic du Midi de Bigorre ce mardi 24 décembre : des rafales de vent à 211 km/h ont balayé son sommet, selon le site web Infoclimat.
Val says  You get the feeling we have been very lucky here with weather, a lovely sunny Christmas Day, admittedly with a storm through the night but then another nice afternoon.

Horse Livery / Boarding Kennels

Horse Livery / Boarding Kennels

Hi Val / Malcolm, 

We would like to take this opportunity to ask a question to the readers of TAG on-line, their friends and family.  We have a house, just outside Verfeil in Coussol Bas, with enough land that we are interested in providing a Horse Livery & Boarding Kennel service. 

We have been advised by one of the Veterinarians at Parisot, that there is a demand for this within the surrounding area.  We have plans to provide 8 stables and 10 kennels.  We are looking to have these built at the latter end of 2014. 

We understand that ‘local’ people travel vast distances to attend to their horses and board their dogs, with a reputable and trustworthy business.  With dogs of our own, we understand the need to sometimes board, when travelling.  More often than not, the burden on friends & family is too much and boarding is the only option. 

Any interest or views would be warmly welcome (bradley.parker@orange.fr).

Kind regards,

Brad & Roberta.

Val says why not tick interesting if you think this is something you would use and contact the couple if you have other views