Thursday, 31 October 2013

Many care about football, with men it's in their genes.

French President François Hollande showed football clubs the red card on Thursday in the face of protests over plans to impose a 75 percent tax on earnings over one million euros a year.
The Socialist president refused to budge on the issue after meeting the chiefs of some of the country’s top tier football clubs earlier in the day, who have threatened to strike over the tax. The Union of Professional Football Clubs (UCPF), which represents France’s first and second division teams, stated that they would now go ahead with plans to strike at the end of November in response to Hollande’s position.
Val says
 Who cares if there is no football? not me! Now that should get a response even if from Malc.
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Sunday opening for two retail chain stores

Two leading French DIY retail chains – Castorama and Leroy Merlin – have won the right to open on Sundays, following a landmark ruling by an appeals court against laws that many in France see as archaic.
Under French law, shops can stay open on Sundays – in the mornings only – if they are located in high-density residential areas or if they cater to tourists.
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What have I done, two more coming tomorrow!

Today was the first chance we have had since our return from Spain to let the donkeys who had been kept in a small corral to stop them escaping, back into the big field.
We have spent days redoing the electric fencing over the last few weeks and it is lovely being confident that the girls are safe.
Or it would be lovely if that were true, they wandered their way in when we opened the gate and then kicked their sabots and were off at a gallop down to the bottom of the field and straight through the bushes. Malc and I looked at each other in amazement, and said " so that is where the little beggars are getting out" not through the electric fencing at all.
We had so many plans for this afternoon, all which had to be cancelled, as we walked off  looking for them. A neighbour said he had seen them go of down the road so we got the car out and drove off on the trail. We found them trotting along the road, out on a spree, looking really happy. When I got out of the car they turned and came back to me, running up and standing still whilst I put on their collars and leads. I then walked both of them back up the road  with Malc driving behind me.
Now any normal person would be saying "enough is enough" but all I can think is the little darlings came back to me without their food buckets - they love me.
Even Malc was impressed with them, when he could have been fed up.
As long as they are still in the field tomorrow where I have put up more electric fencing round the bushes,  then life will be good.
... and tomorrow Coco and Filou, two new little donkeys arrive. What have I done?
On a different note, a musical one - the  hen Scratch who loves playing  at the door of the hen house " you put your  left leg in and your  left leg out, left leg in and shake it all about and cackles at the same time, you did not know there was more to hens than a tasty chicken dinner did you? Scratch is not a pretty hen so maybe she feels putting on a show will make her a popular pet, whereas her only role in life  is egg laying - not on the stage.
Update  The girls were still in the field this morning - yipee!
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Help little Sethi of Montricoux

Afin d'aider Sethi et sa famille dans leur difficile lutte du Syndrome de Wiskott-Aldrich et afin de sensibiliser le maximum de personnes au don de moelle osseuse, seul moyen de le guérir, l'Association Sethi Petit Prince organise son premier loto.
De nombreux lots sont à gagner (bons d'achat, TV 99cm, colis de viandes, Sodastream, robot ménager, caddie garni...). Nous vous attendons nombreux à la salle des fêtes de Montricoux le 23 Novembre prochain (ouverture des portes 18h30, début des parties 21h). Voir aussi et (film en anglais!)


Halloween: my treat

We had a great time yesterday, which was our ville's designated day for giving kiddies sweeties. We love the idea that there is a special day when children can take sugary gifts from what, to all intents and purposes, are strangers. We live a little on the outskirts of our ville: not too far to be ignored but not close enough to be sure of inclusion, so we put together a master plan which was this: We would wait a while (an hour seemed appropriate - we are still familiarising ourselves with the French system of time - for example, 16h00 usually means not before 16h30 but possibly by 17h00), to see if anyone braved the journey to our house (they didn't), then fill the car with goodies (with the dog in the back for our own protection) and tour the ville, looking for kids.

This turned out to be a brilliant plan. We found a fair number of little ghouls, princesses and witches and forced our delicious (may contain nuts, wheat, soya) home-made produce on them. And the best bit was, they were grateful and said thank you.

Now, If I do that next week, I'll probably get arrested.


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Book and dvd swap, a chance to get christmas cards, buy raffle tickets and pick up your ordered curry.

Busy morning on Monday 4 th of Nov. at the Gazpacho at 10.30am in St. Antonin for the ever popular book swap. Karen and Chris Robinson will be there with christmas cards at a more than  reasonable price, so keep an eye open for them. I will have the TAG christmas raffle tickets for anyone who has not yet bought any,  buying makes you feel good and Christmassy I have been told, and I like to make people happy.
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The thing about being President

Dear Val,

Reading your piece about François Hollande this morning brought to mind a marvellous quote from Douglas Adams: “Anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.”


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European Wine Tourism day

Happy Halloween/ trick or treat / farce ou friandise

One thing about being at Mas del Sol we will not be bothered by children knocking on the door shouting  " trick or treat". I am told by our grandchildren who live in Henley that parents with children put out pumpkins with candles lit at the gate to show they do not mind trick or treaters, no pumpkin no visit. Although certain residents have bought signs for the window saying " no trick or treats here please"
I found this information by googling about the rise of " le farce ou friandise" here in France, a report below by an new English speaker to France

More and more "trick-or-treaters" come to our door each Halloween. Last year we must have seen 15 costumed children at the door. A few years ago, the group in charge of village festivals decided it was becoming something that should be organized for the safety of the children. They sent every household a note explaining that children would come around, accompanied by adults for le "Farce ou Friandise". Anyone who was not interested did not have to worry; they would be "opted out" automatically. Those who were interested would have to put up a sign. The notice included a little witch outline to stick on the door. Without the witch, the children would not ring. My husband took one look at the little silhouette and said, "I see she's a very French witch!" And I could see his point. Since we love seeing the costumes and the joy on their faces, we cut out the little witch and have participated every year so we could wish all the children a "Heureux Halloween"!
Useful french words for Halloween

French halloween

  • Halloween = ‘’Halloween’’
  • Pumpkin = ‘’la citrouille’’
  • Witch = ‘’la sorcière’
  • Hat = ‘’le chapeau’’
  • Broom = ‘’le balai’’
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The hostages were liberated but was a ransom paid, and if it was by whom?

Information judiciaire

Mais l’émotion réelle de ces retrouvailles - partagée par l’ensemble des Français - a aussi laissé place aux questions concernant les circonstances précises de la libération, avec cette question récurrente : une rançon a-t-elle été payée ? Par qui ? Hier, des informations de presse ont fait état d’une vingtaine de millions d’euros versés au cours de la très complexe opération de libération, négociée depuis plusieurs mois et réalisée du 21 au 29 octobre.
Val says There is talk that a ransom was paid, not paid for by government money. The talk is of 20 to 25 millions. This is not good news as these hostages have been released but that group or another like it will now snatch more hostages, why not,  they will think? Once again it is proving to be a very profitable business.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

What is normal behaviour?

Today I thanked Jacques Petit for all the work he has been doing helping Linda Hatfield after David's death. He said  "no, no, it is nothing,  it is normal"  I said it is not normal to put yourself out so much for people. He replied I am normal it is the others who are not normal.
What a decent man he is.
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Agnès Poirier writing in the Guardian gets 3 out of 10 for me

'For voters across the political spectrum it seems, poor François Hollande can do no right.
His approval ratings were already disastrous, but François Hollande is now confirmed as the most unpopular president on record. A survey on Monday put his personal approval ratings at 26%, the first time a president has dropped below 30% since presidential popularity began to be measured by BVI polling agency. For voters across the political spectrum it seems, poor Hollande can do no right. Here are 10 possible reasons why it's all gone pear-shaped for the president.

1. The 75% tax trap

The pledge made by Hollande during his election campaign, that he would tax the highest incomes at 75%, alongside his earlier "I don't like the rich" statement, has almost defined his presidency and not in a good way. The biggest irony is that the 75% tax rate, since deemed unconstitutional, will never be implemented. A case of communication gone terribly wrong. Zéro points.
Val says  This was one step too far and the statement " I don't like the rich '' was just silly. However, the tax may be implemented after some changes - that's why the football clubs are going on strike.

2. He has perfected the art of putting the cart before the horse (otherwise known as getting his priorities wrong)

To start his five year reign with the same-sex marriage bill battle was probably courageous, but ill-advised. In the eyes of most French people, even those in favour of gay marriage, the new government's efforts should have been focused on fighting the public deficit, tackling unemployment and reforming institutions.
Val says  do not agree with this at all, passing the bill was a brave and courageous move, long overdue

3. Hating conflict is not ideal when you're the president of France

Hollande hates confrontation, can't stand discord, and like most self-confessed social democrats, he wants to calm heated debate at all costs. If this has proved useful when negotiating with trade unions over greater flexibility in the labour market, a conciliatory tone in all things is not always useful.
Val says  - nothing wrong with hating conflict, negotiating makes much more sense than conflict

4. He is indecisive

Conciliation often leads to indecision, or the appearance of indecision. His advisers confide that they never know what he really thinks and that his answers to questions are either "oui" or "oui oui". In a country where the favourite three letter word is "non", the presidential habit sounds more than hesitant, it sounds ominous.
Val says I do agree with this statement, he cannot afford to be indecisive, a leader to give confidence needs to be strong. He was very decisive over the threat to Mali.

5. He doesn't seem able to rein in his party factions

That the Left party's pitbull, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, keeps insulting the head of state on prime-time television and on the airwaves is bad enough, but you could argue that not being a member of the government, he doesn't have to show any deference. However, the Greens holding ministerial positions, calling for French youngsters to take to the streets, is a step too far that even a conciliatory president shouldn't accept.
Val says - this is normal, there are always factions in any party and Jean - Luc Melenchon was just as insulting in the run up to the election and is not in fact  a member of the PS but leader of a mixed bag of left wing minor parties.

6. He's too normal

I admit, we quite liked it at first. After five years of sheer abnormality with the histrionic Nicolas Sarkozy, most of us welcomed "Monsieur Normal", a slightly overweight regular bloke, not a jack-in-the-box prone to outrageous behaviour and policies. The problem is, France requires a less than ordinary president, a personality able to grasp the complexities and beauties of such a contrarian nation.
Val says Oh for heavens sake, thank goodness for a normal chap .

7. He has a weak prime minister

Why oh why is Hollande sticking to Jean-Marc Ayrault as PM? The mayor of Nantes should have kept doing what he does best, being a local figure. The poor man looks so exhausted; he has no authority on his unruly government. Manuel Valls, the current dashing and firm interior minister, would as prime minister stir passions and wake France up.
Val says I don't agree I think Jean Marc Ayrault is a creditable PM

8. He lacks communication skills

Can Alastair Campbell please help? If Sarkozy was a master dazzler, leaving us no time to rest between announcements of eye-catching new measures, Hollande seems unable to present his actions in clear and effective terms. We don't see him much and when he speaks out, we're not convinced.
Val says - sadly he does lack these skills and training from Alastair Campbell might be a good idea.

9. He has stopped being himself

This is probably the saddest thing. François Hollande, bon viveur and witty charmer, used to make us laugh. If he's still charming and warm in private, with us, his people, he feels he needs to act out a part. We don't see him eat, drink and be merry, he doesn't humour us anymore, he even walks strangely, as stiff as a broom.
Val says With reports like this coming out can you blame him looking defensive but his walking looks perfectly normal to me. Isn't he trying to be a bit less "normal" and more "presidential"?

10. He hasn't eased our existentialist angst

Many of us hoped he would be able to soothe our national anxiety, which reached alarming levels after five years of Sarkozy paroxysm. Alas, after a wait and see period, we feel increasingly impatient. Soon, we'll be getting angry.
Val says I think the French are not getting angry but they are disappointed with Hollande's poor performance and even Socialist supporters are losing heart. But 18 months into his term it may be a bit soon to judge, n'est-ce pas.
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Letters from Père Noël

Hi Val, how are you? With the colder weather this morning our thoughts are slowly beginning to turn to Christmas. Did you know Père Noël answers children's letters in France?! Any letters addressed to Père Noël or Saint-Nicholas and posted before 20th December will receive a reply. You can also email him! Visit This is definitely something we will be doing with our boys as Reuben is a bit concerned Father Christmas will not know we have moved to France!
Becky x

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Bridge clubs at Caylus and Villefranche de Rouergue

Thursday night at the Bar Bascule at Caylus starts at 5.30pm, everyone welcome.
Another club playing with the French is at  Route de Monteils. Z.A les granges at Villegranche. A very active club with 50 members Tel 0581391080 or 0565455104 or even 0565811359
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Les Hivernales mark their 10 years

The series of documentaries from all around France which are shown in local venues each winter has reached its 10th anniversary. The first showing this year is at Puylaroque on Sunday 10th November and is a retrospective of the 10 years. These films are usually in French and deal with all aspects of life, often with a nostalgic look at rural life.
The series is the brain child of Béatrice Amiel et Jean-Michel Filiquier, of the association Le Fond et la forme. This winter films will be shown locally  at Parisot, Caussade, Septfonds and Espinas. The programme can be found at
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Emmaus now in the UK

click on the link below, those people who have asked" tell me more" Emmaus has now opened shops in the UK and by reading the site in English you will be able to see what its aims are.
Our guiding principle is one which is essential to the whole human race if there is to be any life worth living, and any true peace and happiness either for the individual or society: Serve those worse off than yourself before yourself. Serve the most needy first.

As well as having such worthy sentiments they do get some good things to buy along with the odd bit of tatt.
French link is

Mozart concert at Caussade

This is a choir from Toulouse who are very good.  
Rachel Shamash
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Elly Wright, artist with an atelier in the summer at Najac

Hi  Val,
It sounds as if you have had a lovely holiday. My husband and I used to visit that area of Spain. It was so easy to pop over the border and enjoy a totally different culture and language. Those were the days.
Thank you for asking about the exhibition. I have written a few lines for taglines about the exhibition and my plans for next year. A couple of photos of my paintings are also attached.
Is the winterfuel petition still running? I have some more friends I can ask to sign, but am not sure whether the petition is still open for signatures?
All the best and keep up the good work. I always visit the blog at least once a day.
Elly xx

Val says  I have just checked the petition I put on and it is up to 100 signatures but I would advise readers interested to sign the Connexion petition, which has over 13,000 signatures.
as Elly is such a lovely artist  an interested regular contributor I have asked her to tell us about her exhibition.

SEAM4 exhibition at WAC Gallery, Waterloo, London,  7-19 October 2013

Life has been hectic since I returned to UK from France last September. I brought back a lot of paintings made during the summer in my French atelier for a two week exhibition in London in October. The vernissage was held on 8 October, attracting a good 100 guests and another ‘Meet the artists’ event took place on Saturday 12 October. Both events were well attended and the wine (imported directly from France by yours truly) flowed liberally on both occasions. Whether that influenced the sale of paintings I could not possibly comment on, but we all sold work both to known collectors but also to casual visitors. The WAC Gallery in Waterloo Action Centre is diagonally opposite the Old Vic theatre and I sold some work to unsuspecting theatre goers from the USA and Bristol. They dropped in to kill time before the performance and walked out with two small paintings. I also was particularly touched by the visit of two of my good friends and neighbours from Najac, who had come to London to see the show and spend some time with me.

At the moment I am making plans with an artist friend for an exhibition in France in the summer of next year. We are very enthusiastic about this and as soon as I have more news, I’ll let you know. If however, our plans came to nothing, I do hope to hold at least an open studio in my own atelier near Najac next year. So, watch this space.

Gain and aid at the same time

Do you need some tidying in the garden or a bit of painting doing? A friend Rana, who is willing to give a hand with any of your little jobs,  needs at the moment a little of our help. A very willing, charming lady who works hard.
Contact her  Rana      tel  0952635416
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Four French hostages liberated without a ransom being paid or military intervention.

Le président François Hollande a annoncé hier à Bratislava (Slovaquie) la libération des quatre otages français travaillant pour Areva, dont le Lotois Daniel Larribe, enlevés le 16 septembre 2010 à Arlit, au Niger, par Al-Qaïda au Maghreb islamique (Aqmi).
Great news after 3 years of captivity, these  four hostages who were never forgotten by their friends and supporters here in France and have now been released. On tele matin every Wednesday morning the pictures of the hostages were shown to keep their terrible situation in  the public arena.

Rana, singer, artist has ideas for Christmas

Our thoughts are with Linda Hatfield today

Today we will be at the crematorium at Montauban saying goodbye to our dear friend David Hatfield, and then after we will be at the chateau at Parisot celebrating his life in the way he would have appreciated. Friendships, food and wine make you think of David who was a superb, interested cook.
Linda who is the President of a local popular ladies group called Fifi was supported wholeheartedly by David and the ladies will be out in great numbers to remember this kind man who touched their lives.
Our thoughts are with Linda who will now need the support of friends and members of this group.
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Tuesday, 29 October 2013

I love an instant response

Hello Val
I look forward to seeing the side advert.
I must say I was very impressed with your site and had an immediate
Thank you!
Val says  - and how often adverts seem to have an immediate response, as did Rebecca, holistic practitioner
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Deconstructed crumble!

Glynis sends a recipe for the Cooks label but look how pleased she is to get feedback.
Malc and I can give her feedback on the birthday cake she made for Malc. We kept it till the family were here and cut it in Spain where Malc was having yet another 70th birthday celebration. It was delicious, slightly perturbing when the children wanted to eat the figure of Malc made of icing sugar- they did eat him and said he was yummy!

Glynis says

 I didn't know people even read the recipes so it was a pleasure to have two
separate conversations with people who had actually tried them.
 The microwavable fig jam worked! 
 This months discovery is deconstructed crumble
Make a crumble mix and put it in the oven with no fruit. Bake it well.
 You can then sprinkle it on top of cooked fruit. It also works well on ice
and yoghurts
 I made one 3 weeks ago. I've kept it in a pyrex dish with an airtight lid
 and it's still as crunchy as when I made it.

My next post will be on cream - bear with me!

 Glynis x
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Sauvegarde de L'eglise St. Vincent, de ses peintures murales.

The general assembly is fixed for Tuesday 5th of November at 15h. I assume this meeting is in the Church at St. Vincent de Varen but if not I will repost.
Malc is on the committee, the President is Palmyre Lacan  and Malc is hoping for some new blood in Varen to come along with ideas for fund raising and to add a bit of life to the proceedings. It is a very pretty church with murals that have been saved, but more work is needed.
Val says  it is at the church
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Two single beds for sale SOLD

can you advise me how to advertise in Tag for selling 2 single basic beds, no wood ornate, just mattress and ( sommier) ? on 4 legs.
Price for the pair: 100 euros or 50 euros each
 thanks and regards
Bertrand Dezes

Le Château
81170 Saint Martin Laguépie
05 63 30 27 99 / 06 10 50 83 50

The policy has to be well thought out and then you stick to your guns

In a humiliating climb-down Tuesday, the French government “suspended indefinitely” a green tax on heavy goods vehicles that was due to go into force in January 2014, following a weekend of violent protests in Brittany.
The unpopular “ecotax”, aimed at encouraging environmentally-friendly commercial transport, was designed to impose new levies on French and foreign vehicles transporting commercial goods weighing over 3.5 tonnes.
Critics in Brittany said the tax would seriously damage the region’s precarious farming and food sectors by increasing transportation costs, driving companies out of business and leading to major job losses.
Local businesses and farmers argued that because Brittany had less rail infrastructure than other French regions, it was being unfairly penalised because most goods there have to be transported by road.
Val says how much humiliation can the government take. You decide on a policy in government after debating all the pitfalls and then you announce it and stick to it. Showing a weak dithering government does not make you popular. Make the policy fair and then stick to it. ( said with shades of   Maggie in my voice.)
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A new Emmaus opened at Montauban

 Ce 9 novembre ainsi que le 10 novembre (de 14 à 17 heures), jour de l’inauguration des nouveaux locaux montalbanais.
This Emmaus is on the Avenue de Toulouse at  Montauban.
Emmaus is a charity in France set up by L'abbe Pierre [died the year before last I think] It is a charity which aids the poor and homeless. Someone told us about it when we first came here and since then I have been a sort of regular visitor at the branch at Carmaux. It is especially good for white linen beautifully embroidered sheets which I use on the beds or as tablecloths. It sells everything one has in the home and I have bought many a garden table and chair. All the goods are donated so it is a bit like a huge Oxfam. Often I go with things to donate and come back with other things. Generally men hate it but us ladies appear to love 'ferreting' about
There is a branch of Emmaus at Villefranche de Rouergue which is near HyperU, up past the roundabout and behind a funeral parlour.It is open Friday afternoons 2.30 to 6pm.
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A tribute to David, now in condolences

I met David (and Linda) in the first year I visited Ruve and Michael (circa 2001) and liked them both immediately and immensely.  David was such a lovely person who always had an interesting story to tell, easy to talk to, open and friendly, one of life's doers - such a warm kind hearted spirit. David - you will be sorely missed. Linda, my thoughts are with you and Rupert. 
Much love Heather Wallace

Kind regards

Val says  TAG would like to give a donation to Davids favourite charity and Linda has suggested one of the cancer charities. So if anyone is not sending flowers but would like to make a donation in memory of David please consider one of the Cancer charities.
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The pecking order is established

Bottom of the three  hens in the pecking order is poor Penny,  this morning she has lost her tail feathers and although we did not see it happen I blame  the well named Peck.
Annie who has fallen  in love with Peck, "she has a lovely coat grandma, with bluey / black feathers" so she is convinced it must have been  Scratch. No doubt the pecking order will be established and in a few days the three will be out claiming their territory, all 2 hectares of it .Strangely they never cross the road, there is a joke in there somewhere.
This afternoon we went and took these pictures of Penny and the other hens, when Annie announced ''grandma, you need a hen trainer'' There you go, in that simple statement all our hen problems would be sorted! Anybody know of a local hen trainer? No replies please.
Annie with Penny

Annie with Penny, Peck and Scratch

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Of interest to builders, possibly

Over the road a huge lorry ( not sure how it negotiated our roads) came yesterday and delivered a great big load of small  wood chippings, sawdust I suppose. I could not imagine what it was going to be used for, but I am sure all my male readers are saying " insulation" which is what it is going to be in the roof and walls. I bet the mice will prefer that to the horrid rolls of  fibreglass type lagging, and it is an eco friendly option.
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Temperatures change today

We were sitting out yesterday having lunch at the end of October when one of the party said " my phone weather forecast says it will rain in an hour" We all laughed as the sun was shining the sky was blue and rain was impossible to imagine. On the dot, the clouds rolled over and spots of rain began spitting down.
We all enjoyed the sunny weather be it here or in Spain but now the gardens need the rain and a number of sunny / cloudy days are forecast.
The family leave this afternoon and we have had a lovely time but work is piling up in the garden and a bit of autumn cleaning is needed in the two houses.
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Halloween at Caussade

O' Neills the irish pub has been transformed into a halloween castle and is planning a festive evening with 2 concerts 31st Oct.
for reservations tel 06 15 70 18 70
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Monday, 28 October 2013

Lille and Toulouse major research centres for Alzheimer's

Researchers have taken a major step towards understanding the causes of Alzheimer's disease with the largest study yet into the genetics of the disorder.
Findings from the international team suggest at least 20 genes play a role in the common late-onset form of Alzheimer's, more than double the number scientists had previously identified.
The work gives researchers an unprecedented view of the biological pathways that drive the neurodegenerative disorder, and raises the prospect of a test that could determine a person's susceptibility to the disease. Such a test could be helpful in the future if preventative drugs become available.
Researchers led by Philippe Amouyel at the Pasteur Institute in Lille used genetic information from more than 74,000 Alzheimer's patients and healthy controls to find regions of DNA that were more common in people who had the disease.

The scientists found many genes already implicated in the disease, including APOE4, which is strongly linked to late-onset Alzheimer's. But 11 of the gene regions had never before been linked to the disorder.
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The storms washed away a 47 year old woman

The body of a 47-year-old woman who was washed out to sea off the Brittany island of Belle-Île was found on Monday, maritime officials said, after strong storms hit northern France, southern England and Wales before moving on to the Netherlands.
Helicopter crews scoured the sea off Belle-Île in Brittany while search operations both on the coast and in the water were hampered by high winds and six-metre waves.
Sources said the woman had been washed out to sea in an area under high cliffs.
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Becky is an interesting blogger

If you want to read more about the Laguepie  Chestnut Fair read  La Famille Brown – family blog about our move to France!

The Nosals send their thanks

The trouble is with lunches out with french folk one really does have to eat everything so one does not appear to be rude. All the family are back from a meal at the Domaine de Sautou where more than generous helpings of various courses were consumed, leaving us all "stuffed"
Jean Marie and Winnie are so grateful to TAG readers as once again I handed over another 3 cheques, one the proceeds from the opera evening and the other two from adverts on TAG.
Winnie has plans to help 140 women grow food in Mali to feed their families and then sell their produce. More of this at a later date when Winnie gives me all the details.
Arriving back home Annie rushed of to check Scratch, Peck and Penny to discover one had laid an egg in the right nesting place. Penny was still hanging around with her real friends the dogs and Scratch and Peck were still over around the hay by the donkey hut. Nearly time for bed, we are all wondering what will happen then, will they all put themselves to bed without fighting? The tension is palpable.
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French National Tennis Finals (Les Raquettes) at Arcachon

Hello Val..

Here's an update on the St Antonin Ladies visit to Arcachon:

Over the weekend of 19/20th of October, the St Antonin Ladies Tennis team travelled to Arcachon, near Bordeaux, for the finals of the French Ladies Tennis tournament (Les Raquettes). Having previously won the departmental, regional and inter-regional stages of the competition, the ladies had exceeded all expectations in just setting out on this last journey.

The competition was, as expected, hot, but St Antonin did well in coming 6th out of eight teams that made it to the finals - to be 6th in all of France was some achievement, so a big "well done" is in order!

The French Tennis Federation (FFT) organised the event and it was pleasing to see FFT representatives from Mid-Pyrenees supporting our team. An unexpected honour was the attendance of the President of the FFT, Jean Gachassin, at the team dinner on Saturday night - he took time to speak to every team and made everyone welcome.

The team
, consisted of (standing L-R): Marian Gunnis, Christine Gee, Shirley Cooper (captain), Sue Bargery and (seated) Irene Bacle (Regional FFT organiser for mid-pyrenees) and Cendrine Bolot. 

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Brittany and Normandy hit by the violent storm

75,000 households with out electricity in these areas after being hit by the violent but well predicated storm.
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Morning hen update

Annie and I were up at the crack of dawn having been awoken by two donkeys naughtily braying for their breakfast, so off we went to feed those two girls and check the hen situation still in our nighties.
On opening the hatch first morning contender out  was Penny who went straight to the hen feed  (we had again disposed of  the cannibal slugs) next out was the big shiny black hen now called Peck, an apt name as she rushed at Penny and started pecking her neck. Then Scratch tentatively put out her leg to take it back in and out a few times, a bit like the action of a stripper, in my head stripper music was playing. When she did emerge she flew at Penny and also started biting her neck, Penny made her way bravely fighting through to go back into the henhouse, where she proceeded to lay an egg.
(she knows her place in the scheme of things)
We left them all together and came back for our breakfast to be summoned to the front door by Penny about ten minutes later. Although we had closed the fenced enclosure door she had obviously decided  they were no friends of hers and flew out. I heard my daughter whispering to her  " you must be careful what you wish for Penny, things are not always what they seem"
We checked out Scratch and Peck, who once we opened the enclosure gate went and sat happily on a pile of hay.
The elder grandchild Sharki took the egg but somehow it ended up being smashed on the bedroom floor never making the fridge for some strange reason.
We have all been invited to the Domaine de Sautou for lunch but I am sure there will be more exciting hen news on our return.(and possibly news of the children of Bamako)
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Of Poppies and Bleuets

Of Poppies and Bleuets
The month of November brings the annual  commemoration of the Armistice, which brought an end to the First World War. This war officially ended on the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month of 1918, and it is a long established custom to hold a simple ceremony of remembrance  at the local village monument, dedicated to those who died in that war and succeeding wars.
Read more in the Patrimoine label, a post by Ross Jenkins

In the heart of Toulouse, a successful run yesterday

More than 7,000 runners / coureurs  entered the run at Toulouse yesterday, more than expected.
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Sunday, 27 October 2013

More pets for Mas del Sol

Are you joining in with Malc with the oh! No
Yesterday  I arranged to look after two more donkeys. I can hear the cries of horror from here.
 Let me explain, friends of the young couple over the road have  bought a bit of pasture land nearby
for their two small castrated donkeys. I had the idea of putting them all together as we have plenty of pasture and two donkey sheds. When they all escape I will have young folk to help me bring them all back, now that should work , shouldn't it? It will be so lovely for my girls to have little friends.
Then today we met Mimi and Kevin, local farmers who are over run with chickens. Penny our hen has been very lonely and Annie granddaughter really fancied choosing a couple of hens to keep her company. She had spent most of the holiday in Spain deciding on names and had come up with "Scratch and Peck". When we went with the cat box tonight to choose two there was no way we were going to be coming home without chickens. My plans of buying specialist chickens thrown out of the window, Annie decided on a smart black  hen with very red comb and a rather large scruffy brown one. Now the one problem was Mimi was not sure if the black one was a cockerel  or not and the last thing Malc wants is a clutch of chicks. ( well not exactly the last thing as two more donkeys are not high on his list) Tomorrow we have to wait and see if the black hen " jumps" the other two. Mimi tells us  this is a sure way of spotting a male.
Quite a different    way of obtaining two new chucks for me, my normal way of ordering two brown at point of lay which come in a box on Thursday mornings delivery at Unicor seems very civilized and easy in comparison.
So saying Mimi and Kevin at Cambou have lots of hens for sale if you need new hens.
So now we wait to see what tomorrow brings and at least Annie has gone to bed happy.
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October Folk'n'jazz at Parisot cancelled

Although Linda Hatfield and Ruve and Michael, the hosts at the chateau in Parisot, were willing for the evening to go ahead, Linda's friends the organisers and performers were not comfortable with continuing so soon after David's funeral. It has therefore been decided to cancel the planned folk'n'jazz evening this week. Please let anyone know who you think might have been planning to go who may not see Tag.
The next folk'n'jazz will be the celidh in Verfeil at the end of November, more about that later.
Sue Carter
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The Chestnut Fair at Laguepie

The wonderful wooden street games were in Laguepie again this year. Annie, our youngest grandaughter had a go with the bows and arrows and amazingly her arrow shot right up in the air and onto someones terrace on the second floor of a nearby house. A frenchman turned to his friend and said " they were always the best archers,  the English"
Chysanthamums, ready for Toussaint

Charlotte called him "the Pumpkin Man"

Chestnuts already to eat

Traditional Aubrac dancers

Spiced Cuisine Coming to St Antonin

Well done ladies

Zelinda Kraak, Susan Bargery, Christine Gee, Mariann Gunnis, Shirley Cooper et Cendrine Bolot  The ladies from the St. Antonin tennis club came a creditable sixth overall in the finals at Arcachon earlier this month.  Entering a team in the national championships for the first time the team has progressed from departmental through regional, inter-regional into the national final. There they won one of their three matches to ensure 6th position. The mixed Anglo-French team has fired the imagination of the club which has seen a big increase in interest.
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A lot happening today including the Toulouse Marathon

Ce matin, pas moins de 6 500 coureurs s’élanceront du pont Pierre de Coubertin pour les 42,195 km du marathon de Toulouse

What time is it?

Did you remember to put your clocks back an hour last night?
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Unsung hero, till now

Sometimes life can be very confusing especially when unusual situations turn up and one has to cope in a foreign language.
A few years ago when we had problems with our rogue French joiner, the joiner arranged many meetings trying to get us to pay money early, once even arriving with a couple of " heavies"
Our plasterer on the house at the time was Jacques Petit from Cazals. Jacques was disgusted by our treatment by a fellow French artisan and took it upon himself to help us out, writing letters, insisting he was there at any meeting arranged and then helping when we ended up in the courts. We will always be grateful to him for his help at that time.
We recommended him to some friends down the road and he started work for them. One day travelling back to England via Toulouse the couple's car slide off the road on black ice and landed down a ravine  They were very lucky to get out alive, but who was on hand to sort out the rental car which was a write off and then hospital forms - yes it was Jacques.
Now I hear that Jacques who has been working for Linda and David Hatfield has jumped into the breech and is helping Linda with all the funeral details.
He is a Frenchman who speaks English and has his own young family and never mind being a brilliant artisan he is just a truly good person. If TAG had unsung hero awards he would certainly win one.
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Saturday, 26 October 2013

Some children are just not given a chance.

In the Dordogne a baby was found in the boot of a car still alive but very dehydrated. The car was left at a garage and the baby was found by the mechanic. The mother was taken in charge by the gendarmes as was the father of the child who was found to be drunk.
This couple have a record for "violence habituelle" against a minor under 15 years old.
How sad for this child or children this couple have, they will ( if they are lucky) grow up never knowing the love and care our children are given. Our daughter is concerned our grandchildren get to the Opera and go to Wimbledon etc. to broaden their education. 
Life is just not fair, but we must still try to tip the balance if we can.
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Brocante at Septfonds tomorrow

Brocante at Septfonds Sunday 27th Oct.
If you fancy a rummage it's the place to go.
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Funeral arrangements

For those wishing to travel together to David's funeral on Wednesday we will meet at the salle de fetes, Septfonds.
There will be a convoy leaving  promptly 12.45pm
If you need a lift or can volunteer to drive please contact Glynis ( and she will try and make sure there are enough drivers for passengers.
For those going it alone it's quite simple to find
Junction 62 Chaumes
Turn left on the roundabout when you come of the motorway and the cemetery is a few hundred metres on your right. It is signposted

FiFi will be sending flowers
Dress code - as you wish
Linda is holding up well and grateful for the love and support around her
Doreen Porter
Val says  We will go directly from Varen and if anyone would like a lift please let us know
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The book and DVD swap is Monday 4th of Nov

Monday 4th of Nov. on the morning at  10.30am at the Gazpacho at St. Antonin will be the very popular book swap. A chance to change your books and DVD's,   and I will be there with the very popular TAG christmas raffle tickets.
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Remember the Chestnut Fair tomorrow at Laguepie

Big day at Laguepie tomorrow, if you are going my advice is to get there early and get parked.
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Maeva has a good run with adoptions

 que des bonnes nouvelles!!
 Perle est adopté!!
Filo est adopté!!
Shiva est adopté!!!!
 Merci Maeva
Val says  Well done Maeva for getting Perle rehomed. Perle was the painfully skinny dog with long ears.

Art for children at l'abbaye de Beaulieu at Ginals

Ces 26 et 27 octobre, ainsi que les 2 et 3 novembre, l’abbaye de Beaulieu-en-Rouergue propose un rendez-vous exceptionnel aux enfants (à partir de 8 ans) et à leurs familles pour expérimenter la découverte d’une œuvre d’art.
The animatrice is Vanessa Bougard
L’atelier, qui s’adresse à tous les publics, aura lieu de 14 h 30 à 16 h 30, dans l’ancien cellier du monastère.
Plein tarif: 9,50 € (avec droit d’entrée du monument inclus mais gratuité jusqu’à 18 ans); tarif réduit: 7,50 €; tarif public demandeur d’emploi et public handicapé: 4 €.

Tudor brother in law has the last laugh

Hi Malcolm
have just come in from "uber" victory by the glorious lads in blood red
 or something like that !!!
 also glad to hear that you' ve joined the over 70s club, forgetting the
 charger.!!!!  what I want to know is
 "did your pants fall down when your battery went flat ? "
Val says  TAG poked fun at Tudor when his pants fell down at the airport security now he gets his own back with Malc, and the first bit refers to the Boro playing football!
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A book of condolences for David Hatfield

As readers are wanting to pay tribute to this lovely mild mannered man David Hatfield, TAG is going to open a book of condolences for you to send your memories which I will then print and pass on to Linda. If David touched your life send your memory to :-
The book is now open,  at the top of the page is a label.
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More thoughts of David

We last saw David walking Rupert early one morning just before he and Linda left Parisot. We got to know them both through the Parisot art festival when David offered to do the web site. He was a lovely man and it was a pleasure to know him, although briefly. He cooked a lovely meal for us once -a talent he shared well on the TAG blog! He was a real gentleman and will be sadly missed by all. Our condolences and thoughts are with Linda. With much sympathy,
 Toyin and Debra Okitikpi x
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Friday, 25 October 2013

High speed train gets go ahead on the Bordeaux to Toulouse line

A HIGH speed rail link between Bordeaux and Toulouse is scheduled to enter services in 2024, after it was approved by the ministry of transport.

The Bordeaux-Toulouse LGV (ligne de grande vitesse) was put on hold in 2012, along with plans for several other lines, over concerns about financing the €5.9bn link.

Once completed, the LGV line would cut the train time between Toulouse and Paris to three hours and 10 minutes, an hour faster than today.

The LGV route between Bordeaux and Tours, currently under construction, will cut the travel time between Bordeaux and Paris to two hours and five minutes when it opens in 2017.

While announcing the Bordeaux-Toulouse project, the government also relaunched plans to create a France-Spain TGV route, with the first stage running from Bordeaux to Dax, due to be completed in 2027 at a cost of €3.2bn.

A further stretch from Dax to the Spanish border, would enter into service around 2032, at a cost of €4.1bn

Report from the Connexion
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All of Paris is an art gallery till 27th of Oct.

The 40th edition of The International Contemporary Art Fair starts tomorrow until 27th of Oct. where you can expect and could see art in the most unusual places. Reminds me a bit of one of our visits to the Dali Musuem at Figueres where we all stood and contemplated a fire hydrant for some time, not sure if it was an exhibit.

A new Spa Experience in St. Antonin

    A New 'SpaEXPERIENCE in St Antonin

Just to let YOU know at tag lines that I am delighted to offer............

between Monday October 28th to Saturday November 9th a deeply relaxing treatment!!
A luxurious 25 minute  HOT STONE BACK massage for only 20 EUROS!!!!

This introductory offer is to personally welcome YOU, your friends and family to the new local St Antonin "SpaEXPERIENCE!! !!

Spa Treatments include ....
Reflexology a delightful foot massage to ease tired feet, Indian Head Massage superb for headache sufferers
Aromathery massage and Swedish massage for aching necks, backs,shouders and legs..........

So why not discover more about the array of St Antonin "Spa" treatments,
Treatment Prices and Bookings via WEBSITE

Take a 'Spa' break whilst shopping, having lunch or simply meeting friends in St Antonin.

Destress..... soothe those aches and pains away.

Holistic VTCT Practicioner

:Tel      WEBSITE  

A picture of one our slugs

The arion vulgaris slug which Malc refused to believe I had seen, a slug with an orange skirt. Just before we left on holiday here is one I took a picture of in the garden. It is smaller than the ones near the hen house but it certainly has the orange skirt. What do you think, common or garden slug or the cannibal slug?

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More condolences

Hi Val and Malcolm
We only new David for a short while but it is very sad news indeed. He used to walk the dog up at Cambou so we will miss his waves.
Can you pass on our condolences.
Jean and Ray

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David will be missed by his friends

I was very sorry to hear of Dave's passing. He was a friend going back years to the food website eGullet. He was one of the few civilized participants in a hectic free-for-all. If there is an afterlife, he is probably performing the same function.
John Whiting
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A lot of singing of Viva Espana this week

As we were driving into Spain and around the countryside the car song of the week was Y Viva Espana. I read today that the singer of the song Manolo Escobar has just died age 82. He released the song to coincide with Spain's transition from dictatorship to democracy.
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Condolences to Linda and family

Dear Val 
     Please extend my condolences to Linda Hatfield on the death of her husband.   I enjoyed his writing and opinions on the subjects of interest to him.     He seems to have led a full, varied life.     My thoughts will be with his family and friends , including Rupert, during this sad time.   Kia Kaha Linda.
Anne ( from New Zealand )
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French football clubs to strike

France’s top tier football clubs will go on strike at the end of November in an act of protest against the government’s plans to impose a 75 percent tax on earnings over one million euros, the country’s Union of Professional Football Clubs (UCPF) said on Thursday.
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A notice for friends of David Hatfield

Funeral arrangements are as follows:
Wednesday 30 October at 13:30 at the Montauban crematorium.
100 Route de St Martial, MONTAUBAN 
(close to Clinique Chaumes)

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Holiday soon over, time to leave.

From Monday to Thursday the sun has shone on the righteous and all the family and we  have had a super holiday playing on the sand and jumping in the waves. All innocent pleasures nearly over. A shoal of jellyfish put an end to antics around 5pm when our daughter was stung on the wrist, quickly sorted by getting some cream from a chemist nearby. Malc has forgotten his charger for his electronic, bionic,  artificial leg and his knee has seized up today,  so it is time to leave and we will wend our way home tomorrow.
Calella, a 25 minute walk over the cliff brings you to this bay

Annie, if she is not running ,  is standing on her hands.

Yes, I dare do it says granddaughter Charlotte, known as ''Sharki''
Malc with Sam our daughter

Malc says It is probably the house and  pet sitter who ticked enjoyed, relieved we are one our way home!
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