Saturday, 30 November 2013

I should be in politics

Ban coloured tattoos? Surely the government is missing a trick here. If they were truely concerned about the health of the nation would they not have banned smoking, which is known to cause cancer but is still very legal? What they should do instead of banning coloured tattoos is to tax them. Then the revenue can be used to treat victims of cancer.
Val says  - am I missing something  here, would these tattooed people  not be the very cancer victims which the state would then have to pay to cure. I think ban smoking, ban tatooes would make us both politicians worth voting for Louise!,  but we would have to make up the revenue deficit lost from cigarette sales. Maybe the healthier nation would save so much on health care it would all work out. When do we start our campaigning ?
comments to

Brocante Le Petit Coeur

Brocante Le Petit Coeur for shopping and lunch at La Sirene, a good day out.

Neville and Peter, our wild photographers can certainly take pictures.

Hello Val,
Some shots for the wild photos tab.
Well, after a couple of weeks walking and basking in the sun, we arrived back in France to minus temperatures, brrrr. But at least it is sunny.  I took these pictures just before we left. Misty mornings and autumn colours.  

Val says - look in the Wild photos tab to see more
Comments to

Wreath making at Jardin de la Mothe

Hi Val, yesterday some of the FiFi group spent a lovely afternoon at Marion's Jardin de la Mothe ( making our Christmas wreath. The garden was beautiful, the lunch was delicious, and making the wreath was so much fun. I know that Marion is hosting more wreath making workshops in the run up to Christmas and I thoroughly recommend it to anyone who is thinking about doing it. I have written up our afternoon in our latest family blog post. We're off now to get our Christmas tree!

Val says    Wreath making at Jardin de la Mothe is open to anyone,  you do not have to go on a Fifi day. A group of friends went last year and we really enjoyed it. It must be said that Marion is doing these days to raise money for street children of Mali and Via Sahel enfants d' Afrique, an association that Marion has been very involved with for many years.

comments to

Another fatal shooting in a Jeweller's shop

The fatal shooting of a thief by a jeweller in France's Champagne region has reignited a national debate on vigilante justice, as locals mount protests over the shooter's detention on suspicion of murder.
The unnamed 36-year-old robber allegedly died after a fight for control of the jeweller's gun ended in the gem merchant shooting him four times at his boutique in the town of Sézanne, some 80km south of Reims.
The death is the latest to fuel controversy over the right of victims to resist robberies, amid rising attacks on jewellers and precious metals vendors. It follows a similar killing in Nice in September which led to a massive online campaign supporting the shooter's decision to open fire, even though the assailant was then making his getaway.
Around 200 locals demonstrated in support of the unnamed jeweller, who is being held for a further 24 hours on suspicion of murder while police decide whether they believe he acted in self "legitimate self defence".
Christian de Rocquigny, the prosecutor of Châlons-en-champagne, said that he "doubted" he would be incarcerated for the length of the investigation.
This report by Henry Samuel writing for the Telegraph from Paris( I like his well studied reports)

Martin' s Jazz Band coming to Verfeil sur Seye in March

Pencil this one in your diaries, Martin's Jazz Band is coming to Folk'n' Jazz at the end of March. Many of you will have seen emails from Deddy wanting to find an English teacher for the band who live in and around Toulouse. Deddy / leader of the band was also keen to come and play for us again and having heard them once we are looking forward to the evening in March when they will come again.
comments to

Why put yourself at risk having a tattoo?

For French tattoo parlours life is about to become a lot less colourful.
The French government plans to follow a recommendation by the ANSM, the French National Agency for the Safety of Health Products, that 59 products used in creating coloured tattoo inks should be banned because they could increase the risk of infection, allergy and cancer.
The ANSM called for the ban as a precaution “for reasons of safety.” It, in turn, was reacting to a report in January by the French organisation of dermatologists which said some tattoo inks were "dangerous for the skin" because they contained "toxic metals" and hydrocarbons "the majority of which are carcinogenic." It warned of "allergic reactions" and "risks linked to pre-existing skin conditions."
Val says  Always thought having a tattoo was a barmy thing to do whether in colour or not.
comments to

Illuminations : c'est déjà la magie de Noël à Toulouse

The report below shows how successful the illuminations and Marché de Noël were in Toulouse last year. The illuminations which were lit last night in the rue d'Alsace were featured in a picture in the Depeche and yes it  has made me want to arrange a christmas shopping trip.

When we go to Toulouse we generally go on the train. We could go from Laguepie or Lexos but as these stations are not manned we prefer driving to Cordes / Vindrac which is manned. Then if there are any delays at least we are told about them. The train also goes from Caussade, timetables available on 

Deux millions de visiteurs attendus au Marché de Noël

Depuis hier matin, les 113 chalets blancs du marché de Noël sont ouverts place du Capitole. Organisé par la Dépêche Events, cette manifestation qui en 2012, a attiré près de deux millions de visiteurs se poursuit jusqu’au 26 décembre. Pierre Vincent, coordinateur général depuis huit ans rappelle quelques fondamentaux de cette animation.

Hi, Val.
People may want to wait until after 14th December for that train trip to Toulouse, as I think that work on the line goes on until that date. There is currently a rail replacement service (aka a bus) from Tessonnieres to Toulouse, which adds 50 minutes to the journey.
All the best.

Comments to

Friday, 29 November 2013

Handyman Simon

Simon Curtis who now lives at Le Riols near Varen is available to do any jobs needing doing before Christmas. Simon comes highly recommended and can turn his hand to most things. For those last minute jobs think of Simon. his advert is on the side tab in TAG.
0602295797, or 0652029968,
Comments to


Despite not being able to do any active collecting I am delighted to have been able to send a cheque for €60 to the Royal British Legion area co-ordinator.  Many thanks to those who contributed so generously. Next year I hope to be "on the streets" towards the end of October and I will advertise where I will be and when".
 Di Hope
Val says  well done Di, in very difficult health circumstances.

Ryanair cuts fees and boosts baggage

Ryanair cuts fees and boosts baggage
October 28, 2013
Hi Val
A reader writes:  The Connexion sent us the following article by email today.  There are 3 or 4 worthwhile service improvements here - I thought the news of Ryanair's change of heart might be worth announcing on TAG. 
RYANAIR is getting rid of some of its most annoying practices with a pledge to be more flexible on cabin baggage, stop excessive charges for fixing minor spelling mistakes and reissuing boarding cards, halve late baggage fees and junk noisy adverts during early-morning and late-evening flights. 

The low-cost champion says it has reacted to customer complaints as it aims to increase its passenger number from the 80million this year to 110m in five years.

Boss Michael O’Leary said: “We are actively listening and responding to our customers so that they can continue to expect low fares and on-time flights on Ryanair, but will now enjoy easier website access, 24 hour grace periods, a 2nd small carry-on bag, reduced airport bag fees and quiet flights.

“We hope that our passengers will enjoy these service improvements, while still enjoying Ryanair’s low fares and on-time flights.”

Last month Ryanair issued a profits warning and Mr O’Leary admitted in an interview to The Independent that budget rival easyJet’s website was easier to use. He promised to improve services for passengers from all the way from booking to landing.

Changes will be rolled out over the next six months with improvements to the website on November 1 to get rid of the “Recaptcha” security code and a 24-hour grace period for customers to “correct any minor errors (i.e. spelling, names, routings)” made in their original booking.

The same day Ryanair will operate “quiet flights” before 8.00 and after 21.00 with no public announcements other than for safety reasons.

From December 1, Ryanair will allow passengers to bring a second small carry-on bag (small ladies handbag or small airport shopping bag) no bigger than 35 x 20 x 20cm, which will allow a bottle of wine or equivalent to be carried.

It will also cut the boarding card reissue fee from €70 to €15 for customers who have already checked in online. Customers who fail to check-in online will continue to pay a €70 airport check-in fee.

Baggage fees will also be cut from €60 to €30 at the bag drop desk, and from €60 to €50 at the boarding gate – this, the company said, was to “bring them into line with competitor airline standard airport bag fees”.

Customer service director Caroline Green said: “Ryanair is actively working on to make our low fare services easier to access and even more enjoyable for our millions of customers.

“If customers have any other suggestions or feedback they want us to hear, then please use our customer feedback service “Tell MOL” on the website.”
- See more at:

Soiree Dansante at Caylus

Soiree dansant , traditionnel ( there is a picture on the poster with a lady in traditional costume, so could certainly include Occitan dancing ) Sat 7th of Dec. 21h  Salle des fêtes with Bernard Gaches
Patisseries offertes 8 euros
more info  0563670494
comments to

Marché de Noël, Medieval, At Monteils, near Villefranche

There will be a Marché medieval at Monteils on the 8th of December.
Comments to

A new band on the block!

It was only the second time they had played together but Folk'n'jazz Allstars Ceilidh Band were brilliant. It was a truly international line up with three French, two Dutch and three English musicians and several have been talking of when they can play together again. Thanks to them, and also to John and Linda, who worked hard entertaining us with songs between dances, last night's ceilidh to open the winter season in Verfeil last night went with a swing.

The new venue is a great success, really well heated and comfortable. The freezing weather yesterday may have put some non hardy folk off but there was a good turn out and again a great mix of French, English and Dutch. There were some enthusiastic dancers amongst the audience and they all seemed to have good time learning English and French traditional dances.

The next Folk'n'jazz evening will be on Thursday 19th December (please note unusually this is not the last Thursday in the month which is boxing day). This will be a convivial party evening with food and drink - auberge espagnol (bring something to share). 

Remorque/ trailer for sale

Hi Val
With all the renovation work we are doing we have had to buy a bigger trailer, so our smaller Erde 122 remorque is redundant. With its cover it would cost about 500 euros to buy new. It is very little used (as far as we can remember it has only been to UK and back) so it is in very good condition and we would be looking for 350 euros ono. We could deliver it locally if necessary.
We can be contacted on 0581400039 (landline) or 0652029968 (mobile) or by email to

Simon and Linda - le Riols 

comments to

Can you help?

Hello Val
Do you know anyone who is looking for a new home for a full sized female goat or maybe a donkey?
I have had 2 goats for years, but my beloved Polo has just died. I'm lost without her. I am now left with a very lonely Daisy (Polo's daughter). 
But more than anything I am worried about Daisy in this cold weather, with no one to snuggle up to. I am spending lots of time with her, taking her for walks. But I'm sure I'm no substitute for a goat.
I would be so grateful if one of your readers could contact me if they know of a goat that needs rehoming. A full sized goat would be ideal. But a pygmy or even a donkey would be fine as long as they are female. Thanks for your help
Val says  Do we know anybody with goats Anke?
comments to

Bonny and Twister, often partners in crime

Bonny the golden and Twister the black lab, what a fun pair they are. Bonny was a 60th birthday present from Malc who knew how much I wanted a dog but it was impossible whilst we still worked. In fact Bonny set off the menagerie that we now have. Bonny is top of the list with both Malc and I and we have joked that if we ever parted there would be a court case for  "dogental "( like parental) rights for Bonny. I could argue that she was mine but Bonny might argue that even though I feed her she would go with Malc as he is more fun. I sometimes hear him whispering " who is my darling then" and get short shrift when I say " is it me ?"
Twister, we got as a rescue dog at 8 years old and he is an old chap now but very loving and needy. He would hate being left on his own, but thankfully with his friend Bonny who he adores, he will stay quietly.
When the children come on holiday it is to see the dogs and often the children sob as they leave with their arms around the dogs vowing to be back to see them soon.

Val says -  sorry but on slow news days, you get pet stories!
Twister, a handsome lad
Comments to
Found this when going through the dog file, [ what a character Daisy was]

Bonny when young

Good news on unemployment

Unemployment in France fell by 0.6 percent in October according to offical reports published by the Labor Ministry on Thursday. It is the first time that France has seen a drop in unemployment since April 2011. 
In a press release published shortly after the announcement, the Elysée Palace said: "The numbers published today confirm that the battle against unemployment can be won."
President François Hollande has staked his credibility on turning around the eurozone's second-biggest economy and making a politically sensitive pledge to bring unemployment down by the end of 2013. 
comments to

Arts et Peintures en St. Antonin Noble Val

Comme chaque année à pareille époque, l’association Arts et Peintures en Noble-Val organise son exposition de peinture. Pour cause de travaux dans le bâtiment de la mairie et les galeries étant inaccessibles, celle-ci se déroulera dans la salle du foyer Noble-Val, 18, boulevard des Thermes (porte d’entrée Verrière), du 3 au 12 décembre inclus. Vous pourrez y admirer toutes les œuvres que ces artistes amateurs ont réalisées durant la période estivale, dans leur atelier de la Verrière. Réservée aux adhérents de l’association, l’exposition proposera environ une cinquantaine de toiles toujours aussi variées.
Horaires d’ouverture de l’exposition: de 10 heures à 12 heures et de 14 heures à 17 h 30. L’entrée est libre et vous aurez la possibilité de gagner des tableaux en participant à une tombola.

16 passengers and crew arrive at Toulouse/ Blagnac with the grippe

épidémie de grippe H1N1.  
16 passengers and crew have been hospitalised after arriving at Blagnac all showing severe flu symptoms. The plane was an onward one from Thailand and Bangkok.
Comments to

Thursday, 28 November 2013

My sides ache with laughter

What  a good night at Verfeil sur Seye at the Folk'n'Jazz, this is an unofficial report and I am sure tomorrow Sue Carter who was the leader of the dance tonight will have pictures and the official report. It was great to have the evening conducted in French and English  and even greater to have such a mix of nationalities. The music was good with practically an orchestra and the dancing was just hilarious. The village  baker' s daughter Elodie who is nine knew all the Occitan dances  and it was so funny seeing her guiding dancers back to their places when they inevitably went wrong. Sue Carter did a marvellous job of keeping the dancers in order in multi languages. A great evening in this excellent new venue, I look forward to the next on Dec. 19th
Malc who plays bridge at Caylus arrived at the interval having enjoyed his evening with a good turn out of 14 players.
comments to

How's that for a Christmas cake?

Made by Glynis of course
Comments to

Marché de Noël at Verfeil sur Seye

The 14th of December is the Marché de Noel at Verfeil sur Seye being held in the salle des fetes. More info. to follow.
comments to

Elly Wright has many friends in the area

Dear friends,
As I have had great trouble with BRITISH TELECOM as my internet provider, I have decided to go over to Virgin. This means that as from today I have had to change my email address. My new email is Would you please add this new address to your contacts and delete the BT address?  This will ensure that my emails to you end up in your Inbox and not your SPAM folder.
Kind regards,

comments to

Cat of my heart, our Fred

AS with children you really should try not to have favourites but when you get a pet that is no trouble and just loves you beyond measure, you have to have a sneaking preference for that one.
Fred we think was run over about 3 years ago and had to have his leg pinned which entailed him being in a cage for 3 months. Whenever I sat down I used to get him out and put him on my knee, so now he has a proprietorial right to my knees. He can be asleep anywhere in the house but as soon as my bottom sinks into a chair, he appears. it is not often I write TAG without Fred on my knee. The children  when here jokingly call him " Fat Fred" and I pretend to get upset, saying " no, he is just a little tubby" He is on slimming cat food, but then again so are they all.
My favourite feature about Fred is his pink nose and I often tickle him calling him " my Pinkle Purr " as he purrs with a pink nose .The name comes from the poem by A. A. Milne
Pinkle Purr
Tattoo was the mother of Pinkle Purr,
A little black nothing of feet and fur;
And by-and-by, when his eyes came through,
He saw his mother, the big Tattoo.
And all that he learned he learned from her.
'I'll ask my mother,' says Pinkle Purr.

Tattoo was the mother of Pinkle Purr,
A ridiculous kitten with silky fur.
And little black Pinkle grew and grew
Till he got as big as the big Tattoo.
And all that he did he did with her.
'Two friends together,' says Pinkle Purr.

Tattoo was the mother of Pinkle Purr,
An adventurous cat in a coat of fur.
And whenever he thought of a thing to do,
He didn't much bother about Tattoo,
For he knows it's nothing to do with her,
So 'See you later,' says Pinkle Purr.

Tattoo is the mother of Pinkle Purr,
An enormous leopard with coal-black fur.
A little brown kitten that's nearly new
Is now playing games with its big Tattoo…
And Pink looks lazily down at her:
'Dear little Tat,' says Pinkle Purr.

Comments to

Fifi, the local ladies group of all ages earns praise.

Nearly another end of year for the very popular ladies group in the area Fifi, Friends in France International. Although I am on the committee I am often too busy to be very involved but  I  guide a Poetry group and enjoy the Gardening group,  now under the professional guidance of Debbie from Le Jardin des Espiemonts.
I did not have the chance yesterday at a committee meeting  to congratulate the team on having  a  hundred members and providing a support to many people new to the area who might otherwise have struggled to make friendships so now I would like to offer my thanks to you all for all you do.
Keep up the good work ladies and continue growing and having fun
Fifi can be found in the side tab.
comments to

A French Court says " It is legal"

A French court has upheld the controversial sacking of a childcare worker who wore a headscarf to work, as the European Court of Human rights begins to examine another woman’s challenge against France’s Islamic veil ban.
In a case that has gripped France for five years, a Paris appeals court ruled on November 27 that the dismissal of nursery worker Fatima Afif was legal.
Baby-Loup, the crèche employing Fatima Afif in the multicultural Parisian suburb of Chanteloup-les-Vignes, fired her in 2008 after she refused to remove her Islamic headscarf at work.
Secular France bans religious signs in public educational institutions.
Val says have you realised if you click on the blue bits you get more of the story from its original source.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Double bed for sale, looks like a good mattress

A double bed at bargain price : 200 euros
excellent condition,wooden top
thanks for 'coverage'
Bertrand Dezes
Le Château
81170 Saint Martin Laguépie
05 63 30 27 99 / 06 10 50 83 50

You can't be too careful

Our subscription to one of the web sites we use to advertise the gite expired a couple of weeks ago. We wanted to renew but had not got around to it - after all November is not a great month for bookings. On Monday we received a telephone call saying that it was the web site's office and did we want to renew. Malc said yes and when "Daniel" said he could do it over the phone out came the credit card. "You will get an email confirming" he was told.
Later as we reflected on this, the thought crossed our minds that it could have been a scam. Malc said that they knew too much about our subscription not to be kosher but thought it was a risk not worth taking. He should have said "I will do it through the web site".
As it happens, checking the web site showed that the payment had been correctly processed and our ad was back on line. But there are too many scams simply to give out your credit card details to a random caller.
So: make sure the caller is who he says - say you will ring back on a number you know to be correct.
Always  go to the web site you know to be the correct one (ie never follow a link in an email to you even if it says it is from some organisation you know - such as your bank).
We all buy lots via the internet now and living in the country makes it even more convenient, so don't be scared to do it - but do be careful.
comments to

A perfect family in waiting - for you perhaps

Je cherche à placer ensemble si possible Billie et Chaussette, car nous allons habiter en appartement ,
 Billie a besoin de courir et de jouer, elle s'entend très bien avec les chats, est très douce et maline. 
Chaussette est timide mais une fois installée en confiance sur des genoux , elle pèse une tonne, on ne peut plus la déloger, elle peut être très bavarde, elle a un poil doux comme celui d'une taupe, 
Billie a 5 ans et demi et Chaussette 4 ans et demi
Elles sont stérilisées

merci de transmettre!
Anne Patay
Val says  Although the ideal would be the two going together I think the reality of getting a home for one or the other would be the likely scenario. Rehoming cats and dogs is not a simple business.

 Comments to

Two more good ideas for Christmas presents

Mark Opstad who many of you know from the concerts at Puycelsi is the Director, La Maîtrise de Toulouse, Conservatoire de Toulouse. I thought readers would like his CD's of music and so have asked him how we could go about buying them . The information is below.
I think Malc will guess what is in his Christmas stocking!

Please tell readers to make cheque out for 15 euros per CD plus 3 euros postage if one CD, 4 euros if 2. Cheque made out to SOMUC and adressed to 
SOMUC, Conservatoire de Toulouse, 17 rue Larrey, 31000 Toulouse - obviously stating which CD they would like (Missa Brevis - from 2010 or the new one 'Motets français' ) and giving their address.

Attached are the jpegs of the CDs in case you want them and, for info, the first CD (Missa Brevis) was one of the critics' choice for all the CDs reviewed in 2012 by the American Record Guide (more info on my website...)

Many thanks!


The Music tab has to go

The Music tab causes work for nothing at the moment. I have to copy information twice, when in reality as long as I remember to type concerts on each post or Folk' n' jazz or now even Jam sessions, all this information can be found in the side labels. Time is against me on this one, as I spend hours on TAG, where I can save time I must.
The tab goes.
Comments to

MiniMusique classes and a jam session

Hi Val, hope you're well this morning. There have been exciting developments with our Mini Musique classes this month. I have started teaching piano lessons to two children at Parisot school and I am opening up the lessons to other children interested. I am also starting recorder lessons also for children. I will be teaching a fantastic recorder karate programme where children can gain karate 'belts' to hang on their recorders once pieces have been learnt. It's a great way to get kids started and to encourage them to keep playing. Both piano and recorder classes are in English suitable for primary aged children (5-11yrs) at beginner level.  More info can be found on our website under 'Mini Musique'.

In other music news there is a 'jam session' that has been organised for Friday 6th December in the Cafe du Foirail in Parisot. It starts at 7pm and is open to all musicians and singers. The plan is for it to happen every first Friday of the month.

See you soon!
Becky x

Val says I have made a special label at the side " Jam session in Parisot" I just hope you do not get lots of Fifi ladies coming  with their jam pots and recipes!
comments to

Argo, at last at Mas del Sol

We eventually got to see Argo and was it worth the wait? I think we all with out exception thought it was. A discussion afterwards revealed we all had the perceptions that had been thrust upon us at the time at the end of  the 70' s / beginning of the eighties, that the Shah of Persia was " one of us, a good guy". Actually time retells that he was a cruel despot. A gripping drama with tinges of light relief of a factual event.
Comments to

Another couple take their lives

In the space of just four days two elderly couples have committed suicide in Paris, sparking a renewed debate on euthanasia in France.
The first, last Friday, involved Bernard and Georgette Cazes, both 86. They were found dead, hand in hand, in the luxury Le Lutetia hotel in central Paris.
Their son told daily newspaper Le Parisien on Monday that his parents had “feared separation and dependency far more than death itself”.
The couple had planned their deaths down to the last detail. Police found a letter addressed to the public prosecutor demanding the right “to die in a dignified manner” in their hotel room.
Later on Monday, a second Parisian couple, aged 84 and 81, were found dead in their apartment in the city’s upmarket 7th district.
"They committed suicide by taking prescription medicine," a police source said. "They left a letter explaining their actions."
Neighbours described the pair as a "nice elderly couple" who “went to the theatre and liked to go out".

The euthanasia debate

The suicide of two couples who clearly wanted the right to die together in a dignified manner has re-opened the debate over euthanasia, which is illegal in France.
A six-month study on assisted death in France last year said that active euthanasia – when a third person intervenes to cause death – should remain illegal.
But it said that the government should take public opinion into account – with an IFOP poll early in November showing that 92 percent of French people want euthanasia to be an option for patients in great pain or suffering from terminal illnesses.
Comments to

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Folk'n'jazz ceilidh this Thursday at Verfeil

We have a great new winter venue - Verfeil salles des fetes - its warm and inviting.
We have a great band lined up - Folk'n'jazz allstars ceilidh band - for several months Trevor has been  twisting arms, emailing music and generally enthusing our musicians and has got together a great sounding band ( I sneaked in on Sunday's rehearsal and they aren't bad at all!)
We have singers John and Linda who will be singing between dances.
Now all we need are an encouraging audience and especially dancers.
For those  not so keen on dancing there will be plenty to listen to. For those willing to have a go  the dances have been chosen to be mostly simple to join in and not too energetic. We are hoping for a nice international evening - the band is fairly evenly a mix of French/English and Dutch. There will be French and English traditional dances - explained in English and my bad French.
The evening will start at 8.00pm sharp. Entry is free but bring your own drinks/refreshments.
as they say - venez nombreuses! 
Sue Carter

comments to

Why do the English go back to England for the winter?

This question was asked by a French lady who could not understand as many of us had beautiful homes here why would we leave for the winter. She had heard that it was cold and wet in England so what was the pull to go back.
I explained many of the expats still have homes and families there and the houses they had in England were more set up for cold weather. Central heating, double glazing being pretty much the norm.
Many houses here although large and beautiful are simply to cold and draughty to live in all year round. When I asked the immobilier showing us around when we came 12 years ago what were the winters like, he seriously replied  " you would need a sweater around your shoulders!" now 12 years on when I see this man in warm winter coat, hat and gloves I have to stifle  giggles.
Our first house  "le Presbytere" had secondary double glazing but that was never mentioned on the sales sheet. I often wonder  if at that time it was played down the need for winter heating, well we all know different now.
Perhaps it should also read Scots, Welsh, Dutch and Nederlanders
comments to

The Tax man wants his cut

An imprisoned French drug dealer has been told to pay €80,000 in taxes on money he earned from selling heroin, his lawyer has said.
The bill is based on the man’s estimated earnings through heroin deals between 2008 and 2011 and even takes into deductions for transport costs.
“They addressed my client as a micro-entrepreneur [self-employed freelancer],” lawyer Samira Boudiba told AFP on Monday. “They are levying on his drug trafficking since 2008 based on estimated turnover."
“It is quite extraordinary,” she added. “How can you tax a business that’s completely illegal?”
In the letter sent to the man, who was convicted of drug trafficking offences in March last year and is currently serving a four-year sentence in Nancy in eastern France, the French tax authorities outline a detailed estimate of his earnings.
They base their calculations on a price of €15 for a gram of heroin, while making allowances of the dealer’s personal use of his stash.
“Your personal consumption [of heroin] has been evaluated at four grams per day, and that quantity can be deducted [from the bill],” said the letter.
Val says - Sorry but I like it, what a great story, imagine the drug pedlar being indignant that he has to pay his taxes. I am surprised that any money the man has was not summarily taken from him- the message  "crime does not pay"
comments to

It is all in the mind.

A friend said to me " you live your life as a story" I replied but surely everyone does that, weaving stories around the pets or an event is what we all do. What happens in our heads is often much more fun than reality and when you have both things working well, your life and your head,  you are onto a winner.
Comments to

The labels have to be spot on to work.

A reader this morning wanted an opthamologist and she remembered  seeing one one TAG. Easy to find I thought... but not when under the label  optometrist! It did eventually come up under eyes, and I have now relabelled as optician/ optometrist ( they all tend to do eyes, optometrist and opthamologist)
Another query from a new reader who really wants TAG and I have sent the link twice and added the name to the subscribers list. The couple are with hotmail ( and hopefully reading this now) as when they phoned this morning still having never received it,  we got them to check out their spam / junk box and there it was. So always add TAG to your white list or favourites.
Comments to

Disgruntled cats and dogs

Max, with his " don't mess me about" stare.

The news is a bit bleak this morning  on TAG so I  thought a cheering cat photo would lighten the mood. Sadly our cat MAX is not really a cheering  cat character, more a little demon with a split personality. His name as you may remember is taken from Maurice Sendak' s  the Wild Things and a more appropriate name he could not have. One minute he can be curled up on your knee and the next he can be chasing brother Freddie around the house with a vengeance. The dogs love his antics and have been known to join in , so that you get three pets careering around .. all on the trail of fat Fred. Fred is a calm, do not want trouble  sort of character, so just hides  till all is quiet again, then curls back up to sleep on his favourite chair..
Why the heading, well the inside house pets feel those donkeys have been getting too much of the limelight and they would also like a starring role in TAG.
Max reminded me that he has heard me saying that selling collectable books about cats was a profitable business and I should bear that in mind for viewing figures. He even added " how many books did you sell about donkeys?" and he has a point!
Comments to

Is there such a thing as a romantic suicide?

The striking double suicide of an 86-year-old couple in Paris's luxury Lutetia Hotel may suddenly reignite the debate over euthanasia in France.
Georgette and Bernard Cazes took their own lives on Thursday evening, shortly after checking into the four-star hotel in the upscale Saint-Germain district, Le Parisien newspaper revealed.
They were found on Friday morning lying peacefully on the room’s bed, holding hands. They were wearing plastic bags over their heads, and none of the contents of the room had been disturbed.
The startling discovery was made by an employee who brought them room service breakfast, as per the couple’s request the previous day. The order was made so that “their bodies would be discovered quickly,” the French daily surmised.
Two documents were left behind by the ageing couple: one letter for family and one addressed to French legal authorities “demanding the right to die in a dignified manner”, according to sources cited by Le Parisien.
Val says News 24 headlines this as a "romantic suicide" an odd choice of words. I just think it sad that a couple who wanted to go together had to resort to putting plastic bags over their heads.
Comments to

Un drame pour l’instant incompréhensible.

I think the heading says it all, incomprehensible. A man possibly under the influence of drugs yesterday in Toulouse threw his four year old boy out of a window of their third floor flat onto the car park below. The child was killed instantly with a broken skull.
Comments to

Warning to house sellers

Hi Val,
we were contacted by criminals (under the name of a big firm) who wanted to buy our house. After a little while we found out that they are criminals. Maybe they are contacting more house-sellers.  So a little warning at tag-on line would be a good thing. I found this info later on on the internet:
in dutch:
in english:

we were contaced by a mr Koldan. In reality it is a big israelien diamonds firm, which name they used.
Specially when you really want so much selling your house, one is less critical.... But lucky we found out before any harm!
Greetings Riet
Comments to

Monday, 25 November 2013

Zumba and Hip -Hop for Sethi and other poorly children

Dear Val
Thank you for putting information of our event on TAG. Here is a poster advertising the charity fundraiser which we are holding next month. Funds are being raised in support of Sethi, to assist with medical bills,  and also other other ill children in the area (funds to be distributed by the mairie).
Could you please put on Kim's new phone number 0563242172 as the one I sent you previously is her old one.  She can also be contacted by email on
This Thursday morning, 28th November, 10.30, we are having a meeting at La Salle to discuss progress with organising the event. If anyone would like to come along to take part,  or to donate items for the raffle or tombola,  please 0563242172
Thank you!
Love Debbie

More of those dinky treasures to choose from

Hello everyone

I have started on this years Christmas cakes and attach pictures of the designs I have made so far.
Some of these have already been reserved although I can make additional.
The prices of those shown here range between 8€ to 15€
I also have 2 Christmas puddings which I have yet to price
Email or call if you want to place an order


Who has Butagaz?

Dear Val

Greetings from London where it is pretty much the same weatherwise as for you.   I have seen that very cold weather is forecast for the next while in our 'coin' and Anthony wants to ring Butagaz to see if they have delivered a top up to us.   Small problem, we don't have their number here, it is in our French kitchen....   and the number Ant tried from the internet was the wrong one!   Does anyone else have a contract with Butagaz, and if so please could they email the correct contact number to us?

Thanks so much


Le jardin de femmes

After yet another meeting this afternoon with Winnie Nosal I ascertained that it would be possible to
claim back your impots/ tax credit. What you need to do is when you send a cheque make a note of the cheque number, the date and amount and send a list at the end of the year  to Via Sahel. They in their turn keep a photocopy of every cheque. For those wanting a poster for their face book pages, copy the poster above.
comments to

Good reports of Linda

Linda of Pebble Therapies who now lives at Le Riols offered in the TAG raffle one of her treatments or therapies.
 The lady who won has just phoned me to say how pleased she was with the prize and that she had decided to go for a reflexology treatment. She enjoyed it so much and came out with feet set for dancing.
Linda  of Pebble Therapies who lives at Le Riols, near Varen can be contacted at  tel 0581400039 or 0652029968 or
comments to

Breaking news about Laguepie

Hi, Val.
Hold the front page..... a shop in Laguépie will be open on Mondays from 2nd December onwards! The flyer we received today says that the Utile is changing hands and we will have the "Laguépicerie" which will be open every day other than on Sunday afternoons.
Selling roast chicken on Wednesdays and Sundays and general foodstuffs including cheese and charcuterie, wine, fruit and vegetables and local produce throughout the week, this sounds like good news to me.
Val says  Good news for us all in this area
Comments to 

Steve, Carpetman keeps at it.

Dear Val,
Just wanted to let all of the TAG readers know that we still have the possibility to order and fit floor and wall coverings before Christmas.
This being said we also have numerous stock items such as Carpet, Laminate, Vinyl, Paint, LVT  which could be fitted last minute before the holidays.
Take care
Lot 5b, Voltaire 2
2 Rue Voltaire
82000 Montauban

Tel : 05 63 20 51 59
Mail :
Facebook : Carpetmanfrance

Comments to

Greg Honey, new Cookery Editor

Greg  Honey  A food Biography.
I become interested in food & cooking in my early 20’s, living a singleton life in a small flat in central London.
Due to my work-related travel and the area where I lived, I started experimenting with such exotic recipes as Spag Bol, Chilli Con Carne & Beef Tokany. I still have my original tattered cook-book “Encyclopedia of World Cookery” by Elizabeth Campbell, bought at a W.H. Smith bookstall.
Over the years Deirdre & I collected recipes from a wide variety of sources and with the advent of the PC, these recipes were converted to digital format & any interesting recipes that came my way found their way into my PC-based library.
Partly due to a local grower & herdsman where we lived in Sussex, we became firm converts to seasonal cooking, so I’ll try to keep this up with recipes that I submit to TAG-online, taking my cue from our local St Antonin market.
The digital format allows us to make our own annotations within the recipeswhich I highlight in RED, to distinguish our comments, adjustments etc. from those of the original author.
Enjoy reading and cooking
Greg Honey
Val says  A very  warm welcome to TAG, Greg and I look forward to trying some of your recipes. I see you are starting with soups and I must admit to being the " soup maker" in our house. It may surprise you, readers but I do cook sometimes.
Look in the Cooks label in a few minutes for  the start of Greg's recipes

The radiators are like central heating

Hello Val,
Thank you so much for putting my for sale items on so promptly.
The child bike seat has already sold!
I had a few enquiries about the radiators but a bit of confusion as they are not the plug in kind.
Perhaps you could add the attached photos or state that:
They are similar to central heating and should be wall mounted and wired in.

Thank you!
Just by the by, I have been busy feeding my neighbours, hens, rabbits and goats these past few frosty days whist they are away.
Although not the same as donkeys, the goats are a very loveable bunch and I often think of you whilst I'm distributing the hay!
Hope you're enjoying the sunshine today,
Best wishes, Leila.

comments to

Bonnets rouges for the Revolution

A French mood of mutiny that has rippled through Brittany and infected teachers, farmers and shopkeepers, skipped species on Sunday when horses took to the streets of Paris to complain about tax rises.
Thousands of disgruntled horse and pony riders rode through the French capital to complain about tax increases they say will put many of them out of business and send 80,000 animals to the abattoir.
The "cavaliers" blocked roads from the symbolic Paris squares, Place d'Italie, Place de la Bastille and Place de la Nation, in protest at government plans to almost treble VAT on equestrian centres.
It was the latest manifestation of the growing revolt over PresidentFrançois Hollande's tax reforms, many of them aimed at reducing the country's public deficit to meet European Union demands.
Tens of thousands of protesters wearing revolutionary-era "bonnets rouges" have clashed with police, promising to make the region Hollande's "cemetery".

The caps are reminiscent of a 17th-century revolt against Louis XIV's stamp tax in Brittany and became one of the official emblems of the 1789 revolution.
Val says  I can think of nothing worse than being a politician in the Corridors of Power, which ever party was in power would struggle with the present deficit. Back to the corridors of pooh which I am still cleaning up in the fields and I know which job I would prefer. The sun is shining, the sky is blue and I cannot wait to get back out after lunch.

Restos du Coeur will feed 1 million people

Over the winter period the " Restos  du Coeur " estimates that it will need to feed one million people.
Follow the link to find out more about this charity. Founded 29 years ago by Coluche the comedian the food distribution centres open their doors today.

comments to

Last chance to see this expo at Parisot, Le Bouton Rouge

This time we are also showing examples of beautiful embroidered saris and fabrics made by the women who have received training funded by our donations and sent to us from India.*&fq=themeName:Women%20and%20Girls

We would like to raise even more money to support these amazing women and so we are holding one last exhibition of a selection of the 12x12 pieces hosted by the Mediatheque de Parisot from the 23rd November until the 29th November. We will be selling the remaining cards and original pieces and we would like to invite everyone to come along and see the work. The exhibition will be open during the Mediatheque hours which are as follows:

Saturday:    10h00 - 12h00
Monday:       14h00 - 17h00
Tuesday;      9h00 - 12h and 13h30 - 16h30
Wednesday: 14h00 - 17h00
Thursday;    9h00 - 12h00 and 13h00 - 16h30
Friday;         9h30 - 12h00

It would be great to see any of you who are able to come along.

Kath and Ankie
Le Bouton Rouge

Comments to

Our tronçonneuses never works when you need it.

Le gang des tronçonneuses est passé par Montaigu-de-Quercy. Seeing this article in the Depeche, where 20,000 euros worth of petrol chain saws were stolen from Pole Vert, reminded Malc to grumble our chain saw was playing up again. Not only that but our strimmer and kercher / power washer were also playing up. Chatting to our young brewer neighbour  he reminded us that Johan the donkey owner is a bucheron / woodcutter and that he can always get  equipment going. So crossed fingers for help from the bucheron.

Christmas starts with a bang at Caussade

The newly strung lights at Caussade on boulevard Léonce-Granié came tumbling down on Friday.

 Les guirlandes mal fixées tombent sur la chaussée. It could have been a dangerous scenerio but happily they were refixed without anyone getting hurt.

Ice on the donkey buckets

As long as there is no wind,  out feeding the donkeys,chickens and barn cats first job on a morning is such a pleasure. The donkey buckets of water had a thin layer of ice which needed breaking,  but that apart the grey skies were starting to change with swathes of blue appearing. The donkeys wait patiently for their buckets, all except Rosie who is a little sweetheart unless you are a donkey who tries to approach the first food bucket, then she flings her ears back and snorts and kicks turning like a spinning wheel. She has always been a naughty little number even as a foal, she is the one who sets up escapes, she would have been a great inmate of Colditz but would not have stayed long. I can see her RAF scarf around her neck giving the others the escape plans and then being the first to lead the way.
The two amorous donkeys Filou and Rosie have tired themselves out and the group are now happily sleeping together in the stable.
Filou looks on
The stable and surrounding area of field needs the pooh piles cleaning today  and  I keep a rotation of well rotted manure piles, down to the most recent pile, great for the garden and  the rotted pile is a great attraction to the hens who scrat through for worms till I chase them off. Worms being good for the rotting process and then the soil.
Not a life for everyone but it suits me and Malc down to the ground. ( well manured)
Waiting patiently, I cannot think of anyone who would not be pleased to greet this bunch every morning!

Comments to

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Wine, women and song

Wine, Women and Song

How could you resist?

Once again, the FiFi singing group would like to invite you to our Christmas Soirée. This will be held on Saturday, 7 December at the Salle des Fêtes in Verfeil from 17h00 to 19h00.

Come and brighten up the dark days, join in the singing and enjoy the mince pies and mulled wine. Bring your friends, a convivial atmosphere is guaranteed. Free entry.

St Nicholas Cantata

Hi English friends!
I was hoping you might be able to help me with a little publicity for our concert on 6th December:
We are doing the Britten Saint Nicolas Cantata to celebrate the Britten centenary, with the Maîtrise,and the  choir and orchestra of the Toulouse conservatoire.   As you may know the piece has two well known hymns in it ('All people that on earth do dwell', and 'God moves in a mysterious way') and the audience joins in for those.  I'm not sure how well that will work in France and am hoping to get as many English people in the audience as possible! 
We will also be launching our new Maîtrise CD at this concert.  So, I was hoping you might be able to let as many of your friends as possible know about this concert. Attached is the poster which has ticket information on.
Many thanks!

Mark Opstad

La chasse

A reader writes: It's maybe not fair to the chasseurs' dogs to petition to remove at a stroke one whole day's hunting per week. 
The poor things get only three outings a week as it is. Imagine only walking your own large, energetic dogs on alternate days... 
Much better, if the hunters' reputed use of alcohol is to be believed, would be to ban hunting on Saturday and Sunday after 13h.

Christmas in France

In France, Christmas is a time for family and for generosity, marked by family reunions, gifts and candy for children, gifts for the poor, Midnight Mass, and le Réveillon.
The celebration of Christmas in France varies by region. Most provinces celebrate Christmas on the 25th of December, which is a bank holiday. However, in eastern and northern France, the Christmas season begins on 6 December, la fête de Saint Nicolas, and in some provinces la fête des Rois* is one the most important holidays of the Christmas season. 
*Epiphany (la fête des Rois) is usually celebrated the 6th of January, but in some places in France it is celebrated the first Sunday after January 1st.
 In Lyon, 8 December is la Fête de lumières, when Lyonnais pay hommage to the virgin Mary by putting candles in their windows to light up the city.
Le Réveillon
Although fewer and fewer French attend la Messe de Minuit on Christmas Eve, it is still an important part of Christmas for many families. It is followed by a huge feast, called le Réveillon(from the verb réveiller, to wake up or to revive). Le Réveillon is a symbolic awakening to the meaning of Christ's birth and is the culinary high point of the season, which may be enjoyed at home or in a restaurant or café that is open all night. Each region in France has its own traditional Christmas menu, with dishes like goose, chicken, capon, turkey stuffed with chestnuts, oysters, and boudin blanc (similar to white pudding).
Comments to