Friday, 28 February 2014

Tapis another dog, who gave and received pleasure.

Tapis was one of those from the bottom cages at Figeac Refuge.
  He was in a terrible state when he arrived here after I don't know how many years in the refuge.  We only had him for a year but he was wonderful and I am so glad we were able to let him enjoy his last few months.
Val says   Well done getting Tapis out and at least he had a short time of happiness.
Comments to

Roxy and life's little surprises

Dear Val & Malcolm,

Thank you so much for the lovely message on TAG about Roxy,. Wouldn't it be great if their story could lead
to other dogs being rescued from horrible places like the Figeac shelter! If only people realised how much 
you get out of taking these 'hunting dogs' into your home; how incredibly gratefull, loving and trusting they 
can become,. I feel so lucky to have had them.
Roxy died in my arms yesterday afternoon and we buried him this morning, at the same spot were Rinus was 
already waiting for him.

And then, only a few hours later and just a couple of meters away from the spot the brothers are buried, 
I got a lovely surprise, almost like a present from life itself; my youngest goat gave birth to a lovely
 little 'chevrette', the first one born at Moulin Druilhet! She is so gorgeous,. and I called her Foxy, in 
honour of a dog that has brought more joy to my life than any puppy could have!!
 Lots of love,

 Val says - what a day of lows and highs. Hope little Foxy gives as much pleasure as did that lovely boy Roxy.
Comments to

Le Colombier at Les Cabannes

Théâtre, musique, danse, chanson
lectures, résidences d'artistes

Friends of English Theatre

Dear Friends,
We have kindly been allowed by Laurence & Alan Geddes to reach you by mail, in order to inform you that Le Colombier theatre in Les Cabannes is now owned by the Communauté de Communes of Cordes-Vaour.  An association based in Cordes managing the theatre has put together an initial 2013-14 programme and is keen to involve the English-speaking community. Accordingly, we are looking to see whether there is interest in hosting professional shows or plays in English, sufficient to justify a theatre club whose members would receive information, attend performances or join a discussion or activity afterward. 

Le Colombier is a technically well-appointed theatre, converted from a tannery by Pierre Nicole, a Swiss former resident of Cordes. The theatre has a raked auditorium seating 125, a bar and café, a terraced garden and living accommodation for performers, as well as a large car park. We are fortunate to have such an amenity here in the Tarn, and English-speaking residents could no doubt find this venue attractive as a meeting place and a centre for cultural events, plays or recitals in a similar way to the Cordes volunteers who have taken up its management.

The opportunity for one-man Shows was raised by Donald Douglas, who has persuaded fellow actorMichael Pennington to consider holding his renowned Shakespeare show : Sweet William
Soprano Rosamund Shelley has two shows with piano accompanist : one of Shakespeare songs and speeches, and another in English, French and German of Songs from the First World War. Chris Hatton, who has already appeared with success in Toulouse, has an acclaimed show about Will Kemp, Elizabethan clown a theatre figure who fell out with William Shakespeare.

We shall welcome your response to us directly about the kinds of event that would appeal – that is, whether and what level of involvement in theatre might be the case for you ?  This could include attending a performance, staying for a supper, taking part in a reading or discussion group with stage artists, for example.  If you would kindly let us know at one of the addresses below, you will be helping us to establish an idea of numbers, before we commit to this venture.  

We hope that you will decide to join us in some way – and we believe it could be fun !

Best wishes from 
Joanna Boegner, Judith Kent and Donald Douglas      

Val says I think we might have had a similar email from Judy, but basically if you would like to be involved in any way,  attending etc. contact one of the three.

Comments to

Anne is very lucky, Ali at Penne is unfortunate, ours is passable

I expect you have already found this but thought you might be interested

in case you haven't.  I was happy as Castanet has the best water quality.


comments to

Snowing at Penne

Hi Val,
It's 2:00 pm here and it's snowing up at our house...we are high above Penne, it's not sticking but big flakes are falling.

comments to

There are ways around everything.

Hi Val

Couldn't your drinking water tap live under the sink? One of those brass outdoor types, that would screw to the side of the cupboard, just inside the door.

We have a freshwater tap like this in our utility room, whose supply bypasses the adoucisseur (for a better taste). I'm thinking I might add the filtration Miranda suggests to just that tap.

Val says sounds like a possible way forward.

Listen to this readers, nothing to laugh about here.

The quality of French sperm is on the decline. But a new study released this week has raised the question of whether the one-third drop in French men's sperm count in recent years is linked to the production of the country's most famous export: wine.
The two areas which have seen the steepest drops were found to be the regions of Aquitaine and Midi-Pyrénées in south-western France, which also happen to be two centres for French wine production, notably the famous Bordeaux labels.
The French researchers behind the study say those two regions are home to some of country's largest number of farm workers, many of whom are likely to be exposed to pesticides - which researchers say are the chief culprit for the decline in sperm quality. The chemicals can disrupt the men's hormones and thus interrupt sperm production, the study found. 
And Midi Pyrenees is top of the list of men surveyed who are infertile.
Does it seem ironic that this story follows on from water pollution in Midi Pyrenees from nitrates and pesticides  and the viticulture who refuses to spray his vines and faces a heavy fine and prison term.
I am breaking into the song " Where have all the flowers gone, and when will they ever learn"
Bits of the report from Le Monde and the Local

Batten down the hatches

Possibly another storm coming over, off  the Atlantic tonight. Close those shutters in readiness.
Looking out of the window now, the wind is up and it is raining.
The weather will turn for the better next week.
comments to

La Part des Anges / the angels share at Albi theatre

Unless you have already got tickets for productions at Albi theatre, the next few weeks all seem to be booked.
You can still go for a meal to the theatre restaurant  where the price ranges are from 16 to 52 euros, a proud boast of fresh products and cooked in the kitchen ( as distinct from microwaved meals)
I do like the name of the restaurant.

and this is called the angels share
During the process of making wine or whiskey, producers often use oak barrels to store their drink products; when alcohol is stored at 60 percent humidity or higher, for long periods of time, some of it will evaporate out of the barrel. The evaporating alcohol is called the angel's share, alluding to the belief that guardian angels watch over the product as it ages. The beverage's alcoholic level can be determined in part by how much alcohol evaporates out of the oak barrels. 

Accident on the Toulouse périphérique this morning

The Depeche reports that a 7 am this morning there was a bad accident which has blocked the road to the airport. Might be worth mentioning to friends if they are going to the airport.
Comments to

Goodbye to Roxy

Some readers will remember when friends Roger, Anke and I went to Figeac dogs home to walk dogs who never got out of their cages, unless volunteers went to take them out.
We eventually gave up as it was too distressing, and we were only allowed to walk the dogs at the front of the refuge who had a chance of being rehomed. Down at the bottom of the area were the pens for the "no hopers"who had no chance of being rehomed and were never let out for walks.
Before we stopped going Anke saw two of the ugliest big dogs caged up, but they reminded her of the ridgebacks she used to breed.
Anke decided to adopt both dogs, but it was not simple. The director of the refuge refused to believe Anke could possibly want these two ugly old dogs and she had to be convinced that it was a genuine act of kindness.
The dogs had entered the dogs home as 8 week old puppies and were still locked up in cages at 11 years old. Both males, although one had been castrated by another dog it had been locked up with, in a fight he  had lost the necessary bits! Both dogs although very scared and not at all aggressive were covered in scars from earlier attacks.
We eventually convinced the director that they were wanted as pets and I went with Anke to bring them to their  new farm home.
The two dogs were petrified, shook for days and never got over their fear of men. Apparently when I asked why they were so frightened of men, it transpired for years the poorly paid not very bright man who cleaned out the cages used to beat the dogs with a broom to the back of the cage!
Anke has given the dogs free range of her wonderful farm and the dogs confidence grew day by day. They stayed close to her and could be trusted with the many children who went down to the farm.
Rinus died at the end of last year and today Roxy after having a brain seizure will be put to sleep.

Anke, thank you for giving those two sad dogs a happy four years end to their lives. It was a courageous act of kindness and Malc and I will  always remember your care given to these no hopers.

The policy of this refuge which is not aligned to the SPA is to keep dogs locked up for life, not kindly putting them to sleep if they are never going to be adopted.
Comments to


Screwfix UK, who now dispatch to France,  supply two filter kits, one at £33.99 and one at £69.99, which are quite easily fitted by any reasonable DIYer. Just remember to double check for leaks, I forgot and paid the price.
Finlay Neish

Val says   Thanks for that information Finlay. Finding a reasonable DIYer could be a problem in our house, but Malc could give you a reasonable game of bridge or boules! I wonder how we could have a second tap when we have a double ceramic sink surrounded by a tiled work surface?
Comments to

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Santander to Portsmouth with pet friendly cabins

Hi Val. 
Now that's interesting - Santander to Portsmouth with pet-friendly cabins. Eurotunnel at Calais is 9-10 hours drive, and really demands the expense and bother of an overnight stop with pets.  Santander, on the other hand, is under 6 hours from here, with the bonus that you arrive at the port with a night's sleep already paid for on board. And so much better for our animals than being shut away in the car for the crossing! 
A reader writes.
Val says  I think it could be brilliant and  I agree with  that reader.
comments to

Lunch at the Donkey Sanctuary

Here is our Italian menu for Saturday 8th March at 1 pm. 15 euros a head with plenty to eat. Please choose your main course and desert choices when confirming your place.
Starting with Minestrone Soup

Then either Cutturiddi Italian Lamb, or
Chickpea & Red Pepper Casserole with Homemade Olive Bread
Followed by Caramelized Oranges or Tiramisu
Coffee or Tea
All the donkeys have gone through this winter very well, it has been so mild and they all have shelters so it has just been muddy around their entrances. We look forward to a dry spell now !
Denise has been rehomed to a lovely dutch couple who run a camping site near to Puy L'Eveque where their own donkey was lonely.  Now Denise can have more individual attention and they will continue to have visits from the same bare foot trimmer we use so she will have all the continued care she needs to correct her front hoof and help it to grow at the correct angle in the future.  When i saw her last she seemed very happy and well settled.  The donkey's paddock is very close to the house which suits them well being inquisitive animals !
We really appreciate all your help, we couldn't continue to feed the enormous amounts of dry food and hay, and also the medication each month for our oldies, without your continued support.  Thank you.
Jan Lemmy
You need to book as these are very popular events contact  Jan 

English speaking car mechanic wanted

Hi Val
We are looking for an English speaking car mechanic. Is there anyone close to Le Ségur?
Our 2004 Suzuki Grand Vitara needs attention.
Many thanks

Deidre says
The English speaking mechanic that everyone tries to get is Russell Philips from Beauregard just in the Lot. His phone number is : - 05 65 36 99 23 / 06 23 98 14 46.

But he is always very busy and in big demand !

John and Debbie tell us to get cracking with those gardening jobs

John Debbie's profile photo

Spring Clean Your Garden!
John and I have just celebrated our first anniversary in our house, and after a year in South West France, we’re still getting used to the climate over here. There have been plenty of cold, wet days this winter, but it’s also been lovely and mild on many days, and we’ve enjoyed absolutely loads of bright blue skies that make me feel so grateful to be living in such a beautiful part of the world! It feels like spring is just around the corner, with some trees and shrubs in bud and spring bulbs poking through. We’ll all soon be busy enjoying our gardens, with lots of lovely seed sowing and planting, but before this time, it’s really useful to do some groundwork: a really good spring clean, for a tidy, orderly garden, that will pave the way for a successful spring and summer growing season.
Pest Patrol
As the weather grows warmer, pests re- emerge, so it’s a good idea to make regular pest patrols, as early infestations can often be removed by hand, avoiding or at least reducing, the over-use of insecticides. Inspect crowns of perennial plants for overwintering pests such as slugs, snails and aphid colonies. Inspect pots and containers and compost heaps for vine weevil larvae.  As with dealing with the other big garden nuisance – weeds - the more proactive you are in dealing with this continuous problem, the easier your ongoing management will be.
Pruning is a really important part of looking after your plants, and gives your garden a neat, tidy look too. 

Leggy plants are not attractive, and regular trimming will keep them in shape. Winter-flowering heathers can be trimmed now, as the flowers disappear. Prune lavender, as well, ensuring that you trim the new growth only and don’t cut into the old wood (this would stop new shoots from developing). Lavenders benefit from bi-annual pruning, in the spring and the autumn, to keep them in shape. If you look after them, these fragrant, pollinator-friendly plants will last for years. They’re low maintenance and do really well over here in France.

Prune summer-flowering deciduous shrubs, e.g. Hydrangea paniculata, Lavatera, Leycesteria, Perovskia, hardy fuchsias, and deciduous Ceanothus, and renovate overgrown deciduous hedges, before the birds start nesting. Don’t prune spring-flowering shrubs just yet though - wait until after they have flowered.
Pollard (hard prune) shrubs such as Cornus and Salix, before the leaves begin to appear on the stems. This encourages vigorous new growth and augments the stem colour, which will give you  intense, vibrant winter interest which you’ll really appreciate later in the year.

Also prune hardy evergreen hedges; vines such as Ivy, Virginia Creeper/Boston Ivy (to keep windows, gutters and roof tiles clear); overwintered fuchsias (back to one or two buds on each shoot); winter flowering shrubs such as Mahonia and vibrunum x bodnatense, after they’ve finished flowering; and winter flowering jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum) after flowering (cut back the previous year’s growth to 5cm from the old wood to encourage new growth for next year’s blooms).

If you have any variegated evergreens, remove any reverted (purely green) shoots, to safeguard the variegation, otherwise the green shoots will become dominant, as they grow more quickly and vigorously than the variegated shoots.
When you have finished pruning, mulch and feed all of those plants, to assist with their post-pruning growth spurt.

Cut back grasses and perennials
Perennials and ornamental grasses that you left for winter interest should be cut back now before new growth begins. Clip them to within a few centimetres of the ground to enable vigorous, healthy new growth.

Divide and plant bulbs “in the green”
Once bulbs such as Galanthus (snowdrops) have finished flowering, you can lift and divide them. Planting “in the green” means after they’ve finished flowering but before the leaves have died down. This helps with moisture absorption and getting established in the new planting position.

When tidying up your spring bulbs over these next few months, don’t cut back the foliage like you do with grasses and perennials. Deadhead your bulbs as the flowers begin to fade, but leave the foliage to die down naturally, as this will allow the energy to return from the plant back into the bulb.

I know that I’m always saying “Go and do some weeding,” but as we all know, it’s an ongoing task, and really is a spring cleaning essential. As the days lengthen and the weather warms up, the increased daylight and warmer temperatures will encourage weed growth, so get on top of it now! You’ll never have a totally weed-free garden, but the more weeds you can remove before they go to seed and spread themselves all over the place, the easier it will be to keep on top of it throughout the oncoming season. Do a thorough job and make sure you pull perennial weeds out by the root to prevent re-growth.
Remove winter annuals
Now is the time to remove any spent annual plants from your winter planting. At the same time, clear away any remaining debris of leaves and twigs, all of which can be added to your compost pile. Woody material takes a little longer to break down, but you can speed up the process by breaking it up into smaller pieces before adding it to your composter.
Improve your soil
Once your beds and borders are nice and clear, you can work on your soil condition. Dig in organic matter such as well rotted compost or manure. This is especially important for clay soils, and will improve the soil structure. Don’t dig wet soil though as this is counter-productive and will actually spoil the soil structure. A good rule of thumb is if the soil sticks to your spade then it’s too wet to dig.
Prepare vegetable seed beds
I love this bit, as I find growing my own food incredibly rewarding, and look forward to vegetable seed sowing each year. Thoroughly weed your seed beds and fork in plenty of compost. Remove any stones and then rake it to a nice smooth finish. If you want to be really meticulous, you could even sieve the soil!
Direct sow broad beans
OK, so my last 2 points aren’t about spring cleaning at all, but once you’ve done all of your essential prepping, you deserve a bit of the fun stuff, and can get on with some early vegetable gardening, starting with broad beans. They’re a nice early direct sow plant, and while you can follow up with loads of other fabulous vegetables in a few weeks’ time (peas, cabbages, leeks etc) broad beans are the safest ones to start with, and are easy to grow. They’re more tolerant of poor soil conditions than other legumes, but like all the other peas and beans, they will respond well to soil with plenty of organic matter added to it.
Of course, you can sow a greater variety of vegetable seeds immediately, if you do so under cover. However, it’s not a good idea to do too many too early. They can become leggy due to low light levels, there’s additional work and costs involved in caring for them, plus later sowings catch up and grow just as fast. It depends on how much time and space you have and how impatient you are to begin. I like to content myself with the broad beans and a good sort through my seeds, planning my planting schedule and waiting eagerly for just a few more weeks.
Chit potato tubers
The shops are well stocked with a wide range of potato tubers at the minute, and you can choose your favourite varieties, to suit your culinary requirements, with different varieties lending themselves well for use in salads, as mash or as chips etc. They come in 3 broad categories, earlies, second earlies and maincrops(for when you plant and harvest them), and personally, I like to grow at least one variety of each. Whatever you choose, it’s useful (though not essential) to “chit” them prior to planting, as this starts of their growth process, encouraging them to begin sprouting. Place them on end in modular trays (egg boxes or seed trays) in a bright, dry, cool, frost-free place. Position  them rose end uppermost (the end with the most eyes) and leave them for 4 – 6 weeks, by which time their short green shoots will be about 2.5cm/1inch long, and they’ll be ready for planting.
Happy gardening everyone. Put in the effort now and then in a few short weeks, the real fun will begin!

Val says and if you do not like the sound of all this work call John in to help!
 Comments to

Can you find Eileen Burgess on facebook?

Dear Val.
            Not sure how you do that, I mean make a link to my facebook site; tell me then I'll try.
Yes we have been to Laguepie Occitane dancing many times and its very good; we do know a bit of French dancing too, many people know of us at Laguepie and around. Yes we shall have to see how to set up Scottish county dancing look it up on utube.
Yes I'm looking forward to gardening and talk about it, but now I have to be smaller, not 650 deca (is that about 350acers) that's what I've been doing all my life with 5/9 people and 20 more in the summer.
Yes we are looking forward to living in Le Riols. But we have a lot to sort out when we get down there in 16th April or there about.
Did you look at my web site?
love Roger & Eileen .   
Val says  Eileen Burgess of Norway can you find her on facebook with that. [ I do not use Facebook so would not know] I know you can copy links, as I often get them.

12 pet friendly cabins, a lot of us interested in those.

A NO-FRILLS ferry service is set to launch next month. Brittany Ferries’ new “économie” line will begin sailing on March 25. It will offer four weekly services between Le Havre and Portsmouth and one weekend service out of Santander in northern Spain. 
One-way fares for the six-hour voyage to and from Le Havre are set to start at £79 (about €96) for a car and two people when the service begins at the end of next month. 
Those travelling to and from Santander will pay £169 (about €206), and will have access to a reclining seat in the lounge for the 24-hour journey. En suite cabins will be available, but they will not be carpeted, and animal owners will have access to 12 pet-friendly cabins. And there will be two specially equipped cabins for disabled passengers. 
A limited French menu will be on offer, while entertainment will be provided by a movie lounge. 
Brittany Ferries’ group commercial director Mike Bevens said: “We feel that there is an opening for a no-frills, great-value service which will appeal to those who are on a tight budget and may not have even considered travelling by ferry before. 
“While Brittany Ferries économie will not provide the same high level of service and facilities with which Brittany Ferries has become associated it will offer something altogether simpler and with exceptional value.” 
Bookings will open online at in a few weeks. Until then, they can be made by calling 0871 244 1400
Read more from the Connexion
Val says tried the link but it does not work.
comments to

Could be an alternative to plastic bottles

Dear Val,
There is an alternative for the polluted drinking water rather than buying bottles of water. You can install an osmoseur underneath your water bassin. Than you have two tabs, one specially for drinking water. We have it now for more than 5 years, and everybody drinking it is very asthonised that it is tab water. No smell of chlore. And no plastic bottles for the environment. An osmoseur get more than 98 % of the ‘dirt’ as chlore, sulfates and phosphates of the water.
It is an investment but, the amount you pay for bottles and the risk, it is worth wile. The filtres has to be changed once a year but then you can drink your water again worrie free for a year!
The most ideal combination here is an adoucisseur for the calcaire and an osmoseur for good drinking water. Marco can give you more information about installing, prices etc.

Marco Jean, for all your building needs tel 0563240733 Marco has an advert in the side bar.

Hi Miranda
Would it be possible to let us know roughly how much of an investment we are talking about, we may be interested.

Our Juicy Life, love the title.

Val says I get the most interesting emails and have had a couple recently from Ali who has the most intriquing email address. This morning i just had to write and ask Ali to explain it.
 Another couple moving over from the States and having looked at the blog I find it very interesting, especially as the first post is about a diet that our Canadian renters are on[ well Stuart is, by necessity] Ali says she will come and introduce herself at the book swap, so everybody look out for Ali.
Ali's partner is also a painter, Bruce Andersen and we have two of his pictures in the side panel, one of St. Antonin and the other of donkeys.

Ali's reply

Hi Val,
Actually I have a blog:

I started it before we moved to France, first on a 1 year sabbatical to see "if" we could live in rural france, then continued after we returned to Los Angeles, sold our business and our house and decided to pack our things and our dogs and move here full time.

I chose it because I'm a potter and my business is called The Juicy Pear.  I love pears.  So when I thought of a name for my blog I thought "Our Juicy Life".  People told us that my husband and I are The Juicy Pair (not pear).  So it stuck and I made it my email as well.

Eileen from Norway, soon to be France

Dear Val,
Here is a message for Eileen...

Hello Eileen what is the link to your website? I would love to visit it but don't know who you are....

All the best to you from  Sally Bradshaw

Val says  well thought Sally, I have been meaning to ask for a link as I and am sure others will be interested. I will send an email asking.
Comments to

Magazines allowed, if still relevant, published in the last year.

Hi Val
At the January book swap someone brought that month's edition of Which? magazine, which I took and returned to the February one.  It was again snapped up, I believe.  It's really very useful to catch up with stuff like that, once in a while. 

I see your comment today, and I realise this is an important principle, to avoid people bringing along heaps of ancient magazines - resulting in your having to dump them!  

But for the future sometime, I wondered if the book swap might welcome magazines less than 12 months old and in good condition.  Lots of holiday visitors leave them, and we quite enjoy a quick read ourselves as we relax after they've gone!  But then it seems a shame just to bin good magazines when they could maybe still have a use.  There are so many elderly folk hereabouts with time on their hands who maybe can't afford a magazine every month...
x Chris  

Val says  good point Chris and as Chris has now volunteered to take charge of old mags, saving me lugging them about, I am happy.

Water, our life source and safe quality water, our right.

Dear Val,
Very interesting article.  We live between Vaour and Penne and haven't been able to drink our water since November.  We were told there was some type of bacteria growing inside the reservoir.  They were going to treat it and then let us know when it's safe to drink again.  We still haven't heard anything.  When it rains our water can be a bit brown for a few days.  Now I'm beginning to wonder if it's worse than what we were told.  What I don't like though is having to buy water in plastic bottles as we drink a lot of water and it's a shame to have so much plastic going into the recycling bin.
Val says I agree about the plastic bottles, but see no alternative at the moment. As I say a question we must ask of our local representatives.
Comments to

They were all ''bonkers'', the dogs that is.

We were invited to some friends yesterday, where the hostess is a brilliant cook and the host is a great storyteller. Many tales unrepeatable certainly on TAG. We did like the one where one of their dogs had been refused at a local dog kennels, the reason was, it would not stop trying to bonk the cat!
This made us laugh and when we left we let all the dogs run around together,  ours had been in the car. After a few minutes we noticed old Twister looking at me with a bemused, pained expression, one of their dogs was happily on his back bonking away. Polite chap that our boy is he waited for me to tell the friends dog to get down, now that is what I call breeding... well done Twister.
Comments to

It comes around quickly when it is once a month

The Book and DVD swap is on Monday 3rd of March at the Gazpacho at St. Antonin, as always 10.30 am onwards. Come and bring books you have read and DVDs you have watched and swap for others. If you have none to swap come anyway as there is always plenty to go around.
Do not bring old tatty, worn, damp copies or magazines, many thanks.

It is a good time to meet other expats in the area and have a coffee and a chat.
Comments to

Manuel Valls, the Minister of the Interior is in Toulouse tonight

Manuel Valls will be a host speaker dining  this evening with a representative council of Jewish institutions and will be upholding the values of the Republic, Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. Good for him.
Comments to

L'eau du robinet polluée à la source

This story was also in the Depeche which seemed to indicate it is the smaller communes at risk where the water comes from various sources and has no Inspector of the water quality and no system of disinfecting. There are 1,300 small communes like this in Midi Pyrenees.
When we first moved to Varen there was [ still is] a water source in Varen where we all used to go and fill our drinking water bottles,  the water tasted so good and was tested every week by the local pharmacist.[ Malc says'' it was passed by the local pharmacist!''] It stopped  being tested a few years ago as it was found to have pollutants and it was too expensive for the pharmacy to do daily checks. Now there is a sign up saying that it is not drinking water.

Les analyses dénotent de sacrées faiblesses dans le domaine bactériologique. «Il s’agit toujours de petits réseaux dans des communes où il y a plusieurs captages, parfois aucun employé communal, et aucun système de désinfection. En Midi-Pyrénées, 1 300 réseaux concernent moins de 500 habitants», fait observer Jean-Marc Vacher, ingénieur à l’ARS. Le phénomène est tel qu’en 2012 et 2013, l’Agence a ouvert des sessions pour former 400 personnes à l’hygiène de l’eau, produit alimentaire étroitement surveillé.

Comments to

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

I do not want to be alarmist but... what is your water like?

Polluted drinking water is pouring out of taps at the homes of nearly 1.5 million people in France, according to a new study released on Wednesday. Perhaps surprisingly, it’s not residents of French cities who are gulping down the most contaminated water, it is rural areas.
Most substandard water in France is loaded with pesticides and nitrates from fertilisers and livestock manure.
In the Local where I first read this report is a map showing polluted areas and there we are slap in the picture.  In rural areas the problem with polluted water is because we are served by outdated water systems. We did also hear this story on the local TV news tonight.
We drink a lot of tap water, filling bottles and putting them in the fridge but I think we may start buying more bottled water, especially when we have young family members staying here.
Can you remember a couple of weeks ago farmers blockading Toulouse and asking us to support them against the government  in their fight to keep using nitrates on the land? Makes you laugh!
I think with the elections coming up this is a question we should  all be asking  the candidates standing for Mayor, ''How safe is our water and how good is the water infrastructure and the local treatment schemes, and we would like that information backed  by reliable figures.''
A few weeks ago I read a local blog showing a glass of brown water that came from the tap of a Parisot home after heavy rainfall, at the time I thought, mm! it will probably be OK, now I am really not so sure.
Comments to

A lunch at the donkey sanctuary in March

Many of you have been asking when our next fundraising meal will be held. Well february has been an extremely wet and arduous month for working outside and trying to keep the donkeys warm and dry !  we hope to hold our next luncheon on saturday march 8th here at lavolvene and we will be sending out our menu and invitation shortly. 
the AGM for the charity will be held on wednesday 12th march at Lavolvene at 12 noon, please let us know if you hope to come so we can be aware of the numbers.
 many thanks
 jan lemmy

Please make sure you have ordered with Spiced Cuisine

Hi all
 Last chance to get your orders in for the delivery on Monday. Please let us know today or tomorrow.
 We look forward to seeing you on Monday
 Sara & Sharon
 Spiced Cuisine
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Nadau at Espinas in August

  nous vous adressons la communication du concert donné par le fameux groupe NADAU, à ESPINAS (82), le 16 août prochain, dans le cadre du 20ème anniversaire des Fenaisons
à l'Ancienne.
  Merci de communiquer sur cet événement et/ou de réserver vos places au numéro indiqué.
  On peut aussi communiquer avec le Syndicat d'Initiatives d'Espinas au05. / /
  bien cordialement,
   c/o le Comité des Fêtes, 

Val says  these Fenaisons festivals at Espinas are now huge crowd pullers, add to the mix Nadau and you can see why booking early is a good idea.
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Michelin snubs Tarn and Garonne

No stars for any restaurant in the department, Tarn and Garonne from the Michelin guide.
Happily there are  3 distinctions in " le guide Hubert" for chef Bernard Bordaries at Clos Monteils and Le Carré des Gourmants in St. Antonin Noble Val and La Pays Anne at Montauban also gets one toque from this guide. ( a toque is a chefs hat)
It all brings me to think check out our TOF's report and please keep adding your experiences to the TOF list ( TAG ON FOOD)
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The proof of the pudding

is in the viewing. We eventually had a new dish (parabole) installed yesterday - but only the one on the gite. The storm we experienced last night - rain, wind, thunder and hail - put to the test the hope that this would solve problems of reception in bad weather. And it did. The locataires could watch Man Utd even in HD. We on the other hand totally lost reception until the storm passed. Our installer who did not have time yesterday for us, will be back today to sort us out as well.
Val says  that post was written by Malc, what did I care, missing football!

K says You missed nothing, trust me, terrible display by the Reds. {laughing a lot from me}......Much better game tonight, and as usual, not on tv.....thankfully RadioFive Live comes to the rescue.
K is a Chelsea supporter!
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Tuesday, 25 February 2014


That's how many other people joined us to look around the new theatre in Albi over the last two weekends. The long queues we saw were repeated every day, with the last weekend marginally more popular than the first (better weather?).

The queue seen through a tinted window

The director hopes this will be shape of things to come: we hope the quality of the shows matches the quality of the space.
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Fetes des grandmeres

Apparently Sunday 2nd March is grannies' day. At Lisle sur Tarn market that day grandmothers doing their shopping will be presented with posies of pansies.
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Letters in French at Le Colombier

I was going to entitle this "French letters.." until it was pointed out that this could be misunderstood. On Sunday 2nd March, 17h00 (5pm) Claude Bourgeyx will present "Ecrits d'amour" , at Le Colombier in Les Cabannes. It is an epistolary exchange between those in love, seeking love or just hopeful. A tragi-comedy peopled by Bourgeyx's characters coping with life as best they can.
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Norway is coming to France

Dear Val    (Ithink)
                                The Roger and Eileen; did you know we can sing, play, and call many different dances and we have been in many bands.
Also do you know of any Scottish clubs nearby? And I'm the X of Norway's university Head Gardener (See my facebook page)
See you all soon.
Roger and  Eileen
Val says   I cannot think of a Scottish club, but you could always start one! I can think of a very good Folk and Jazz Club  where you would be made  very welcome and if you like dancing you might enjoy the Occitane dancing evenings at Laguepie. 
There are lots of interested gardeners about, I am one and other gardeners  are always welcomed, especially knowledgeable ones.
You must be getting excited.

Debbie and family are loving life.

Dear Val,
We've just had our one year anniversary of moving to France and are definitely not homesick. Our children are settled at school and are speaking French with a fluency that I hope to achieve one day. We love our Quercy stone house,  our gorgeous garden, and the sunshine that allows us to enjoy it. We spent Sunday celebrating our daughter Poppy's 5th birthday in the garden with a bunch of her school friends. A garden party,  in February! That wouldn't happen in England! And big rural French gardens, with barns and stables and bread ovens, are so much more fun for hide and seek. The French children had never played pass the parcel before and really enjoyed it! We spent the Saturday of Poppy's birthday weekend riding around the beautiful countryside with friends in the next village, the dogs running ahead of the horses,  the horses happily breaking into a trot on their first big ride after the winter, and animals,  adults and children all relaxed and happy, enjoying the fresh air and sunshine. I see our move to South West France as an opportunity to give my children an innocent, idyllic childhood, and hope that by bringing them over here as young children I won't have to face the difficult pull experienced by retirees,  who have to choose between homes and friends here in France and family back in the uk.

Val says  a good point Debbie, the children will be integrated and so will you.

Tax office on the move

The Montauban office of the Service des Impots (tax office) in rue Edouard Forestie is to relocate to the Albasud commercial centre. The (too) familiar office is apparently affected by asbestos and would cost 4 million euros to clean up. The move is part of a series of moves by government offices to Montauban outskirts. No date has been given as re-arrangement of the former AXA offices is needed, including building a restaurant.
Malc notes that the CGT union rep has deplored the move and as that individual is charged with looking into our tax return obviously I am in complete solidarity with the staff.
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A new Director at the Maison de retraite at Laguepie

Patricia Laruée-Jean  is the new Director of the Maison de retraite at Laguepie.
I have jokingly said " if I end up there, just think how my French will improve" Malc thinks by that time I won't remember anyway!
The maison de retraite is just down the road from us, I wonder if I should pop in and take some chocs, to get on the right side of her, just to be on the safe side.
Patricia is married with a nine year old boy and is highly qualified.
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Black Peck and Penny, and where are they playing?

Penny and Peck  are driving  me mad. I spend ages getting the manure pile heaped up tidly, go off for a cuppa and come back to find straw and manure scattered every where.They are not scratting in this photo and you can see by their shamed expressions that they have just had a good telling off and are trying to woo me round with their ''angelic faces''  In the meantime Twister the black labrador having just had his tea, comes for a quick manure snack, obviously dessert, whilst I am tidying the pile for the third time.. The donkeys are cavorting in the field and Rosie is back in season ... again, ''en chaleur'' is the French expression. The holiday makers are in for some explaining about sex education to their children. Donkeys mating makes quite an impression and saying they are just playing is not going to satisfy any but the smallest child. I wonder with all the leaflets on local beauty  spots if I should leave a helpful sex education book at the ready for embarrassed parents, for that  bedtime story with a difference!  We have 18 weeks booked this year in the gite and we go out of our way to encourage children. Not just a paradise for us, the children love it and we love having them.
I  do worry why Lucy, half sister of Rosie never comes in to season, but lets not go there.! Bonny is sleeping the sleep of the unrighteous after chasing rabbits this morning. The four cats are following me around, their bowls must be empty.. and now Malc wants a cuppa!.
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My experience of owning a book shop, exactly

Val says  the second homer who sent this knows we use to have a book shop, and yes this is exactly what it was like all the time.

See you soon. Booked the tunnel just now. Hooray!

Love from us xx

Vespérales for March

Bonjour à tous,
Voici l’invitation pour les Vespérales du mois de Mars.
Merci à tous pour la diffusion de cette information.
Peut-être à très bientôt, un dimanche à 18h.
Jean-Paul Carrère,
Ecole de Piano Les Arpèges

Val says  We will make as many as we can Jean -Paul, something worth looking forward to.

Homesick - don't think so

Dear Val,
My husband and I moved here almost 5 years ago and aren't homesick at fact this is our "home" now.  We love every day we are here, no going back for us.

Val says   Well, we will be with you. 
I think it is when you have been here more than ten years that the grass suddenly becomes greener  on the otherside, and as you become more elderly the UK  and family beckons.
Glad you are enjoying the adventure Ali and thank you so much for the feedback.
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Please do not mention being homesick again

Twenty five ticks on the post saying " hands up if you are homesick", Ok so not everyone is home sick but a large number of our circle of friends going back does affect me. I do not like major changes and I want things to stay the same.
That just does not happen at our age, friends move, friends die and for some life goes on but with an element of sadness.
Being more cheerful, we have so much to be thankful about here, so let us get back to pulling together, having fun and trying to make a difference.
We are feeding and schooling street children in Bamako, feeding and homing donkeys who would have suffered by supporting Liberte des Anes, rehoming dogs and cats, like the latest Hugo, and having lots of fun whilst doing it. On the horizon are the opening of two new local theatres and so it goes on.
I forgot the 120 women gardeners in Bamako we are all helping.
Malc says  Actually in the two days that homesick post was on we have had 1,500 views and only 24 ticks, and some of those would just find it interesting. He goes on " it is not really a representative poll, it is more a self selecting sample.
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Pets are classed as movable objects here in France

Tell my donkeys they are movable objects!  if you want them to move, eg one is standing on your boot, you want to clean the stable but they want to stay and cuddle, they want to stand and admire the view... just try to get them to move!  Seriously though animal charities have been trying to get farm animals and pets the same rights as they have had in England for years, but to no avail. The new rejected manifesto below brings you up to date with whats going on.
"While we recognise that animals are not human beings, their capacity to feel pleasure and pain is something we share with them and for which their rights must be recognised,”  says the manifesto 
“Certain codes in France [such as the Rural Code] recognise that they are ‘sentient’, so the fact that they are merely objects in the country’s Civil Code is increasingly contradictory.”
The 30 Millions d’Amis site, which has more than 500,000 signatories calling for a change to the law, calls for the creation of a “third category” other than “persons” and “objects” to give animals a new status.
“Right now there is no difference between an animal and a table,” the organisation says on its website. “Animal welfare is a significant modern social preoccupation. It is time legislators got round to defining a new legal status for them, in line with most other European countries.”
The United Kingdom was the first country in the world to implement laws protecting animals with the 1822 Act to Prevent the Cruel and Improper Treatment of Cattle.
The first general animal protection law – the Protection of Animals Act – was introduced in 1911 and the British government has publicly stated that animals are sentient beings, not merely commodities.
But far from being recognised under the country’s Civil Code as “sentient beings”, farm animals and pets in France are merely considered “movable objects”. and look as if they will remain so for some time to come as the government have declined to change the status.
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Monday was a big day for Emmanuel and he still says " save the bees"

Emmanuel Giboulot  appeared before a judge in the city of Dijon on Monday after defying an official order to treat his vineyard against an insect suspected of transmitting a devastating plant disease.
Giboulot claims the pesticide is ineffective and damaging to pollinating insects such as bees, and insists the disease can be fought via more natural means.
The 51-year-old is being prosecuted by a branch of the French agricultureministry, under article 251-20 of the rural code, for "failing to apply an insecticide treatment to his vineyard" in July last year.
The winemaker faces a six-month prison sentence and a €30,000 (£25,000) fine for refusing to spray his vines.
"It kills not only the insect but also other fauna that are necessary for the natural balance in a vineyard," Giboulot told Le Monde.
Denis Thiery, a vine specialist at the National Institute for Agronomic Research, also told Le Monde: "Even if Pyrevert is of natural origins it is damaging for the environment. It'sis a neurotoxin that can affect not just insects, but birds, other animals, even the winemakers, depending on the doses used.
Last June another organic winemaker was prosecuted and convicted for not treating his vines but was spared a prison sentence or fine after finally agreeing to spray against the disease.
Val says  One would like to think sense would prevail but the department pressing the charge are adamant he should have sprayed... their law should be obeyed. 
Sadly that law is an ass. We will report on the courts decision on 7th of April         Comments to

Monday, 24 February 2014

Sit on mower for sale/ SOLD

Dear Val,
            We would appreciate you posting this. Our old ride on mower for sale. Been really reliable, in need of a good service! 150 euros
Call 065298621 or 0625985103
Robert Peterson
St Andre de Najac

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Two more photos of the new Albi Theatre from Stuart Cryer

The roof terrace with sweeping glass panels, behind which is the restaurant, views over to the Cathedral and all over Albi
Imagine this terrace in the spring and sumer with tables out.

On left Jill, me and Mercedes. Apart from it being a good photo of us all, I am sitting in a chair at the top of the theatre. There is a space on either side of the chair I am in for people in wheelchairs. The whole of the top row is like this, so you can sit, a disabled person with friend or partner.
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If you want to be a friend of the Theatre at Les Cabannes, contact Judy

At the moment if anyone needs any further information about the theatre project they need to contact me as I am the only one of our little committee in residence here in France.     My email address is        Tel. No. 0563 53 29 95.     We are all meeting up again at the end of the first week in March.
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