Monday, 31 March 2014

Spring concert at Puycelsi Church

More information to follow but the date of this concert is 27th of April at 18 hrs.
Tel for tickets  to 0563331584
Comments to

The PM resigns

Jean Marc Ayrault has resigned as PM and the job has been offered to Manuel Valls.
Comments to

Lock up the silver

Hi Val
We have just received a phone call from our French neighbours warning us
that their have been robberies locally. She says that a group of 5 or 6
‘Romanies’ (gypsies? Oh dear what is the pc word here???) have been calling
at houses/farms in Varen/Lexos/Le Riols trying to buy or sell items and the
word is that this is ‘casing the joint’ . Not sure who else may have been
robbed but apparently a farmer in Le Riols has had machinery and engine oil
Has anyone heard anything about this?
An update from Linda
A couple of burglaries in Varen targeting copper, jewellery and electricals.
The men are in two white vans with 31 plates and have also been active in
Gallic area.

For sale fire canopy

Hi Val
We are just about to start revamping our living area and will be taking out
the huge canopy and surround from our stove

Canopy height 137cm
Canopy width (max) 179cm
There is a matching surround for a wood burning insert (125 cm wide 80cm
high) or the canopy could be used over an open fire.
It is too large for our small living area but would look great in a bigger
I have no idea how much to ask for it but if any of your readers can suggest
a guide price then I'm happy to go 50/50 with your charities on the final
sale price
I am near to Le Riols and can be contacted on 0652029968 or
Linda xXx

First cuckoo

Hello Val,
 In answer to your question on Taglines: some friends who live between Espinas and St Antonin told us on Friday (28th) that they had heard a cuckoo that day. We are still waiting for it here, a few km further north.

We note the date of arrival each year and have found that we usually hear the cuckoo on 29thMarch +/- 3 days. But in some years we have got well into April before hearing one.
Vanessa x

Val says With Malc and I with bird song and sightings we both have had to heard or seen it for it to count, are others the same I wonder?

Sometimes a hoot, is TAG

Hello Val
Your tag always keeps me amused and informed.
Is the next opera night Wed 9 th April?

Val says You have to see the funny side of life sometimes and yes the Opera is the 9th. You are in to the Opera Jean,  but we are now fully booked.
Comments to

Integration again

Hello Val,

Having been very busy recently, I’ve discovered only in the past few days the discussion on Taglines about integration. By a coincidence, I had just written an article for French Property News on this very subject, which will be published in the June issue. Your readers came up with some interesting ideas and observations, of which I think probably the most important is learning the language as far as possible and making an effort to communicate.

I just wanted you to know that I wrote the article before reading the discussion: didn’t want you to think I had been plagiarising!

Vanessa x

FANFARON, great news, I am so happy

Hello Val and Malcolm.
We are the couple from the Dordogne who went to see Cécile on Friday, and back again yesterday to bring Fanfaron home with us.
He is the most beautiful, gentle dog we've ever known. He has problems with his nervousness but he seems to have accepted us and comes readily if we call. He has a lot to get used to. Yesterday he went into a room where the TV was on, stood stockstill for a second staring at it, and ran out!! We think he probably hasn't seen one before!

We hope we can fulfill his needs. Our only regret is that he can't run around freely - although we have a fence around our garden, it is old, a little rickety, and not very tall. Cécile suggested we put a wire fence around as farmers do for cattle, so we are going out now to look into that. But he will have lots of walks so that may be enough for now.
We would like to send a cheque for 100€ - could you please say who it should be made out to and the address? If there were 2 parties involved, we could send a 50€ cheque to each if you would prefer.
I have emailed Cécile this morning with an update and will continue to keep in touch with her.
Kind regards
Sue and Martin Thornhill

Val says You lovely kind couple Sue and Martin, that dog will repay your kindness I am sure.
The two dog rehoming sites that helped Fanfaron were Poor Paws in the Dordogne and Dog Links at Rodez, so a cheque shared between them would be marvellous.
The cartwheels of pleasure  I did the last time will have to suffice as I am still recovering!

That's the way to do it !

The puppeteer from Brittany who drove down to give the children at the Domaine de Sautou (and us) a treat, is a really talented storyteller. Well you think he must be involved, but then when he gets behind those curtains on the stage,  you enter a magical world, where even adults believe the puppets are real.

princes and dragons
The child sized marionettes come to life with many scene changes, excitement, pathos, fear, all finished off with a happy ending.
The children love him and as we drove home we all debated about how different effects could have been achieved.
Puppets descend into the audience to this little girl's delight
We had a good chat to him before we left and we thanked him for his commitment and dedication to the  street children of Mali. As we all agreed a starving child in need is someone we would all want to help regardless of colour or nationality.
So never let it be said that the French do not understand charity, this Frenchman certainly does.
Comments to


Hi Val,We were given some by our French neighbours last year along with a dozen eggs. Saute in butter then add to an omelette they said.
We found a very earthy taste and are still here to tell the tale!
Val says Another friend Jill has said she buys them on the market and quite likes the taste.
If you wanted to try them search the hedgerows for a leggy asparagus looking top. Do not use anything but the top as the stalk is definitely stringy. If you are a fan of BITTER tastes, they could be for you.

What a noise this morning.

Scrapping birds, the nuisance birds, a couple of magpies have appeared on the tree which the kestrels perch on just outside the nest. Fortunately just two of them, but they attack the kestrels and fly in the air screeching, it is a fight for territory and terrain. Only so many voles, crickets and lizards in the fields and those aggressive black and white chaps want them.
The kestrels are not nesting yet but mating in the normal mating tree, having a bit of a fling before settling down to the responsibilities of parenthood.
We hope the two aggressive birds will not make our pair decide to find a new spot.
Update at 9.30  The kestrels won that battle and Mrs K is sitting on the doorstep of the nest, watching Mr K sitting on guard in the tree about 3 metres away.
He looks on from the tree and isn't the lichen on the tree beautiful as well as the bird
Comments to

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Avignon is saved and Toulouse la ville rose passée bleu

Avignon has been won by the Parti Socialist and not the Far right.
Toulouse has been won by the UMP party
Beziers may have gone to the far right
Anne Hidalgo is the first women Mayor of Paris and after being the deputy Mayor for ten years now is in charge. She is Parti socialist.
No surprise that  Brigitte Barèges (UMP) won Montauban
Limoges had a left wing party since 1912 but yesterday the vote went to UMP 
A quick round up the Far Right won overall 7% of the vote winning 11 towns.
The wins were mainly blue giving the UMP party wins
Head in hands for Francois Hollande this morning I should think.
Comments to

Savanne, the donkey with the gummy smile has died

hello everyone

Wednesday 16 april is the next date for our donkey lunch with
our Spanish themed menu of Tasty Tapas, with
Spanish Paella or try our Vegetarian Paella, followed by
Almond Tart Tarte aux citron, or Spanish Fruit Trifle with strawberries and kiwi fruit

It will cost you only 15 euros and you will be helping us with the
costs involved in looking after the donkeys we keep here at Lavolvene.
We start at 1 oclock.
When reserving your place please let us know if you would prefer the
vegetarian option and also your choice of desert.
If you have visitors who may wish to visit during the summer months
just let us know and we will try to arrange a lunch to fit in with
your dates.

Please pass this on to your friends so we can achieve the maximum
exposure for this invitation to our meals, each month some of our
regulars are away and different people come to eat, so please come
along and enjoy our lovely food and meet new people with each exciting
menu we produce........

If this date in April is not possible for you we hope to hold our May
lunch on Thursday the 8th

Supporting us with this lunch will help towards the vet's bills for
Savanne, our beautiful poitou cross donkey, she had been poorly for 3
days and on a drip with a swollen mouth but unfortunately even though
the vet tried to save her with every possible drug we had to make the
decision to peacefully put her to sleep this morning sunday 30th
march. Both myself and the donkeys are very subdued and sad today
Savanne -RIP

Thank you so much for your continued support.

Jan Lemmy

A Dutch speaking French teacher

My friend Evelyn send me the link to your message concerning teachers French. I am Dutch, I am a translator and an interpreter (French/Dutch) and I have a degree that allows me to teach French.
Since 2007 I regularly teach French to English and Dutch speaking people. I live in the Lot not far from the border with the Aveyron.
If I can be of any use to you don’t hesitate to contact me.
Kind regards.
Ankie Out                      

Val says  Good for Evelyn. I have asked Ankie exactly where she lives and will put all the information in the label " French teachers"          
I live in Gréalou, 8 km from Cajarc on the road to Figeac.
Comments to

Le Monde tells us that 1,525 Brits are on political lists

Des municipales "so british"

Les 1 525 Britanniques engagés dans les municipales françaises représentent un quart des candidats étrangers, more than any other foreign nationality. Mostly present in the Charente and Dordogne most "tetes de liste" welcome their input and enthousiasm.

Sent by Chris B
Comments to

Last year the cuckoo came on the 28th of March

We met a couple of neighbours on our walk today who said the cuckoo comes on the 1 st of April. I checked on TAG when we heard our first one last year and it was the 28th of March.
Has anyone heard a cuckoo yet?
Comments to

An integrated family

Our pets are like family to us (if you are reading this Sam, you know your are top of the list)... and all the pets are French born and bred.
Bonny was bred by a vet at Albi, Twister the old chap ended up in a refuge when his elderly owner went into a maison de retraite. He only knew French commands when he came to us but now he would be multi lingual if only he was not deaf.
The cats are definitely French and were practically feral when we came but now their command of English is exceptional.
The donkeys were French and I say sweet nothings in English, but commands in French. Actually the only command I use constantly is " STOP" but that is often used by the  French now
The two hens who behave more like French cocks than  hens are English when they lay and French about to go in the pot when they don't.
So there you have it,  Malc and I must be practically French by association.
Comments to

The French are gathering in the hedges.

Responchous or responchons the French are out collecting, they look a bit like asparagus tips but taste foul when cooked. Now we are always told by French friends that it is because we do not know how to cook them. Gill Catterall came up with a good recipe a couple of years ago.
Boil them in water for a few minutes, then drain them, throw the water down the sink and the responchons " in the bin"  We are told that they are a good purge for the system after the winter.
Let' s put it this way when we see collectors in our hedges we say " help yourselves, enjoy"
Malc says we should pick them for the donkeys... they love them, but they are French.
Comments to

Flea market at Montauban

Flea market on the last Sunday of the month selling second-hand goods and general bric-a-brac. Open all day from 08:00-18:00. Place Nationale, Montauban (82)
Comments to

We suffer the wind at Mas del Sol !

It seems much calmer this morning but we did have strong gusts yesterday. The courtyard is scattered with  dead branches from a lovely lime tree at the entrance to the drive, chairs were blown over. The car which we put in the open fronted grange and then throw a special car cover over it blew off, but the donkeys fencing stayed intact. Hope the wind did not cause too many problems for you.
Comments to

French Pyrenees: avalanche kills two and seriously injures a third

The three French nationals had gone snowshoeing near the village of Rabat-les-Trois-Seigneurs in the Pyrenees when the avalanche struck on a 300-metre (1,000-feet) stretch.One of them, a 27-year-old, managed to extricate himself and alert rescue services despite serious injuries.The dead are a 25-year-old woman from the southwestern city of Toulouse and a 32-year-old man, also from the region.

Second round today

The second round of the polls in the French elections today. We wait to hear if Avignon is lost, the city is on the brink of being controlled by the National Front !
Comments to

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Good job the walk is at night !

Bra and a pair of walking boots!! I hope it is not cold!
Sarah Massey
Val says   We did have a giggle about that.  (read an earlier post)
Comments to

Order now from Spiced Cuisine

Dear all
 Spiced Cuisine will next be at St Antonin-Noble-Val on Monday 7th April. Please see the attached ad or go straight to  Email or telephone 06 27 72 01 07. The menus can be viewed on the website

 Please ensure that your orders are with us by Friday 4th April.
 We look forward to seeing you there.
 With Regards
 Sara & Sharon
Spiced Cuisine
Comments to

Any teacher of French in the TAG area, contact me

The TAG area is Tarn, Aveyron And Tarn and Garonne ( TAG)
Let us have a list with contact numbers of people who teach French. If you have a teacher or know of one in the TAG areas, let us know.
It is obvious that speaking the language is the key so we need to know about teachers.
Comments to

What a great letter, I like it

Hi Val,
 Just some simple suggestions, but also comments to other suggestions.

First of all integration means becoming part of, going to, getting involved in, changing your habits and taking others, speaking the other language, meeting your neighbours, ..

Having said that, I think one of the suggestions for inviting the mayor to the English community is a wrong example of integration, we actually should go to the mayor, go to general election meetings, get involved in the things the ‘mairie’ does organize and also the ‘office de tourisme’ or other ‘associations’ organize. It also means not having your own clubs and invite the French in, it means going to participate in the already existing French clubs and activities. I’m not saying that having your own clubs is bad, but it is not integration.
And yes, that is the most difficult way because we have the language problem, but everybody should realize that we being foreigners who are coming to live in France cause that problem ourselves and have to solve it ourselves. It’s not right leaving the French with that problem and asking them to speak another language. By the way, watching French Television is also good for integration instead of only watching English Television.

Basically I have given also already some suggestions at the same time. But when you agree with me it means we are the ones who have to make some major steps forward. First point of attention is making sure you learn French properly. I know Michelle Jones (05 63 30 56 62) in St Antonin is doing a great job in that. But next step right away is making friends amongst your French neighbours and getting involved in French activities.

I also said something about habits. One of the good British habits is doing things for charity. But it is typically very British (not even Dutch or Belgian or…)! French have nothing with charity, so don’t try to get them involved. Another example: don’t get angry when you want to go to a restaurant at 6 PM and it is still closed, change your habit and adjust to the normal French times. Or waiting at the counter in a shop…

Finally: the call for suggestions for integration is such a good one! It means that we are motivated and trying to become more involved in normal daily French living. Keep up the good spirit!

Hans.  ( Buijserd Hans)

Val says  so much sense talked in this post. The only thing we would personally query and say is  you cannot generalise about nationalities. When we have had our Opera evenings for charity, dinners for charity , summer events for charity we have many French friends  and neighbours who support us, and in fact two charities we help are French. Read the post below, a French puppeteer coming all the way from Brittany, to raise money for a French based charity. I know some French people do not understand charity but a lot of others do. In the same way some Uk citizens, Dutch, Belgians  and the French do not even want to talk about integrating, but others do.
 The fact we are having this discussion shows it is important and it would be marvellous if it makes us all more caring with each other. Thanks Hans for your contribution.
Comments to 

Reminder about those great big child sized puppets at Sautou.A French puppeteer raising money for a French based charity.

Malc and I do not need children with us to admit to liking puppets. The Frenchman from Brittany who comes to Sautou with the marionnettes is not only a great puppeteer but a superb story teller, you believe every tale he weaves.
The programme starts at 4 pm tomorrow  and the children get to be seated at the front, wonder if I can crawl in.
Why not come and enjoy the fun.
Comments to

But the cuckoo comes first!

Yesterday on our morning walk with Malc and the dogs I said " we should be hearing the cuckoo soon" Each year we hear the cuckoo and exactly a week later the hoopoo / huppe fasciée arrives.
The phone went today and as I walked towards the phone docking station next to the window, there directly in front of me eating seeds under the sunflower holders,  it was, a hoopoo. The most beautiful, colourful crested bird with long beak. He stayed long enough for me to call Malc and then flew to the nearby tree.
He sat long enough in the tree to get a quick snap.

He will be back now again I am sure as after his journey he has discovered the sunflower seeds.( bio of course) Now we will wait for the cuckoo and listen to whoop, whoop, whoops, along with cuckoo, cuckoo.
It is just brilliant here with all the wild life.
Comments to


Hi Val
 I wondered if you might be able to help me!
 As you may know, my dad's sister lost her fight against cancer last year after a long and hard battle.  This year, my sister and my cousins and I will be walking the streets of London in nothing but a decorated bra and a pair of decent walking shoes to raise awareness for Breast Cancer, in her memory.  Every year, the Moonwalk takes place in London and Edinburgh and thousands of women (and men!) don their bras and walk the equivalent of a marathon during the night,  to raise money for this worthy cause.
 I am training hard pounding the streets between Varen, Milhars and St Antonin, ably assisted and supported by Mimi Scragg who has taken on the role of personal trainer and I wondered whether you might consider sharing my fundraising link to try and spread the awareness locally?  The link to my page is below:
Any donation how ever small would be enormously appreciated.
Many thanks
Val says  I will sponsor you as long as we get the pictures afterwards.

The Rotary club of Montauban organise an expo of sculptures, profits to an alzheimer group.

 The Rotary club of Montauban have organised an exposition of sculptures on the 4 avril à l'Abbaye des Capucins. 19 artistes will be exhibiting. Sadly I have no contact number or further info. but I am sure you could contact the Office of Tourism at Montauban.

Plant exchange at Cordes

12th April in the market place, 10am - 12.00. The workshop is at 13.30 in the Centre Social.
comments to

TAG gets lots of post, with lots of ideas

Hi Val
I have been reading entries in the early mornings and you have such an informative site.  Congratulations! 
Val says By 9am on average over 150 people have looked at TAG, puts the pressure on to write in the early mornings but then post comes in through the day.

We have also had ideas from readers to help integration but most of these want to be confidential. They have given me a few ideas though to work on  (Malc groans)
Hows this for an idea.
Someone suggested we invited all the Maires list for an apero with the English speaking community. I asked a few people and got a luke warm reception. The idea is good though and I thought it could be woven in to an event both Malc and I fancying doing.
Wednesday July 2nd 7pm we want a Midsummer Jazz evening and barbecue, a charity event of course( fun and charity, can't beat it ) but we will send invitations to the Mayor and everyone on his list and personally visit French people in Varen inviting them all. We will tell you more about it as we work out plans... but it will be a good evening. Jazz and sunset at Mas del Sol- brilliant.
Also I have received this letter from Martine Lewis at Puylaroque 
Friday evening, 28th march
Hi Val,
We now have a new maire for Puylaroque, Gilles Valette the baker, and the ceremony tonight was very interesting for me who had never been to one of these sessions.  I am sure he will be a decent maire for us all. As for me I am now looking at other projects and I am going back to what you were proposing Val, do you remember? You were talking about creating an English day of something or another and the only thing missing was the space and location . I said if we are not elected I will seriously think about doing it here at Balthazard. Could you tell me again about your idea? It sounded great at the time!
xxx Martine 
Val says Martine is a " doer" I will talk to her about arranging a Summer Fete or show. Strangely a friend has just given me a programme for "The Barham and district Show" so that will give us ideas. A lot happens behind the scenes here at TAG and not just escaping donkeys.

Clocks go forward tonight

Remember to change your clocks tonight, an hour less in bed.
We have some friends who last year managed last year to go 4 days with out realising, only found out when they arrived at a brico store to be told they were just closing. It shows the pace of life here but the clocks still  do roll on and in this case, forward.
Comments to

France's youngest Maire at 22

Who is Robin Reda?
He became France’s youngest elected mayor after his centre-right UMP party pulled in 52.6 percent of the vote last Sunday in the Parisian suburb of Juvisy. Since Sunday the laurels have flowed in from every direction, including from former president Nicolas Sarkozy, who personally called to say, “You did better than me!”
How’d he do it?
Reda has been obsessed with politics since he was a child. While other French boys might have had posters of footballers or top models tacked onto their bedroom walls, Reda’s room was adorned with the images of the members of former President Jacques Chirac’s cabinet.
As a precocious 11-year-old he remembers feeling moved enough by the 2002 presidential election to shout ‘Vote Chirac’ as he walked to the polling station with his mum and dad. By the time he was 15 he was a volunteer in local politics handing out campaign flyers and sticking up electoral posters.
Read more in the Local
Val says  A name to watch for in the future, still a student at University but with his mind firmly set on politics. I think we will hear more about him.          Comments to

Farmers protesting took a flock of sheep to the Louvre

Tourists at the Louvre museum in Paris on Friday were caught up in a protest by farmers who herded a small flock of sheep into the building, where they raced beneath the building's iconic glass pyramid.

Louvre officials said there were no arrests made for the protest.
Val says  I bet tourists took some unusual photos       Comments to

Toulouse. Des rafales de vent à 100 km/h attendues aujourd'hui says the Depeche

If there is sun, we get it early, if there is wind it sweeps across the tops here at Mas del Sol.
This morning out feeding the donkeys their "bio  hay" breakfast, there were gusts but not too exceptional.
We will have to wait and see what the day brings. I will go around the donkey fencing securing electric tape and pushing in stakes and then cross fingers all is well. The donkeys hate wind and tend to stay in one of the stables, but you know them. If a fence came down,  they would spot it and go running off for " a jolly" with Rosie leading the way.
If ever you see a group of straying donkeys you can call the one at the front " a Rosie"
Comments to

Friday, 28 March 2014

Our renters spot a genet near Kestrel Corner

Val says below is a post from last year on the genet, one has been spotted again in the last few days.

What is a genet?

All live exclusively in Africa except for the widespread Common Genet (Genetta genetta), which inhabits diverse habitats and can be found in Northwest Africa and Southwestern Europe (in the Mediterranean zone, from the Iberian Peninsula to France), parts of the Middle East, and the Balearic Islands. Habitat tolerance varies widely between species as different species prefer woodlands, savannas, and forests.They prefer to live in areas with dense vegetation, such as bushes, thickets, and evergreen oak forests.
In Europe, genets thrive in oak and pine forests, but also live in olive groves, riparian zonesash groves, rocky areas, and shrublands. The common genet is rare in open areas, marshes, and cereal croplands. Despite their abundance along watercourses, presence of water is not essential. Common genets prefer to live at low altitudes, especially in northern areas. Genets also prefer areas with high temperatures and low rainfall.Genets tolerate close proximity to humans.[
Why all this information on genets?
 One was seen coming back from La Contie the other evening and it was caught in the car headlights long enough for John and Sheila Taylor to note the identifying points, spots and a long curled tail.
This is the second sighting in the area as a friend reported to me a few months ago that all her chickens had been killed and she had seen a cat which on looking it up turned out to be a genet. She has now given up keeping chickens as they were becoming the food source for the genets.These cat like creatures can have a territory of many hectares so a run down from La Contie to Mas del Sol and then  Druilhe is a mere stroll for these cats. Watch out Henny and Penny not just for foxes but for the genet.Google them for pictures.Unless one of our photographers has one? [There has also been a sighting at le Riols]. I think the body shape is a bit like a ferret and further reading tells me in Europe they tend to catch chickens from farms with a quick bite to the neck.

Comments to

TAG is getting news of violent winds tomorrow

Malc was just telling me that the meteo was warning of violent wind tomorrow, when I read an email from our insurance company. It was warning of violent wind and suggesting we close shutters, park cars safely, arrange garden furniture away from the wind etc. It did not add watch you donkey electric fences do not blow down ( always a worry in strong gusts.)
Faites attention demain.
Comments to

TAG posts all hang around on the internet

North and South
I saw your request on TAG online.  If you still need part 2,  I can send it to you.
 Peter Anderson
Val says brilliant, I watched part1 borrowed from the DVD swap and then realised it did not have part 2
 It is quite a few weeks since I asked but it just shows you.
Val says again  Peter found the information  about TAG from a notice board at Laguepie. So putting up these flyers is worthwhile.
Comments to

The ups and downs of Fanfaron

Hello dears,

Don’t be to sad if I tell you that Fanfaron ... Is still at home.
A very nice couple came from Dordogne (two hours and a half) to see Fanfaron and I thank them because it’s a nice effort to make such a road. They prepared for him a paradise: A nice bed in the car, toys and everything a dog can dream on... Excepted my Fanfaron lost dog! ... In a way, I saw he noticed with a great interrest  the luxury of the situation, smelling everything in the car, (my two others dog started to jump in the nice car and were very exciting of such a bed!) but, AS usually, Fanfaron made his worse sad face like in the cartoons when this nice people took him for a little walkin lead.  They hesitated a long time, and may be it’s the man who admited that he doesn’t know enought dogs to manage such a situation... He was interested by the “braque de l’ariège” puppies I had ... They are so much easier, coming to everybody with a joyfull way of being. But these one are not losted dogs.
The woman even had tears on her face when we had together a coffee at home, because she found Fanfaron so beautifull but at the same time was afraid of making an experience... I feld taht in a way she had oity of him and was very nice and sensitive. Even if I promise to the people to take back Fanfaron in case of problem, I think that people dream of an ideal lost dog very happy to see a new owner , with no default at all... It’s more or less impossible... Most part of the losted dogs have a little or big trauma... So, As i’m used to this situation, no problem, Fanfaron is stiil there, and as I  leaved him free with Hercule, I ‘m sure than while I’m writting this mail they went together running somewhere... Exactly what I don’t want them to do! I went yeterday in the Gers to buy a kennel  that I found on “the bon coin” and I we will close one part of the park... When we will have time. One good point... After Fanfaron understood he will stay here, for the first time, He came close to the couple by himself and let them caress him a long time. The woman said to the husband: “Did you notice as he changed his way of beeing with us in a short time”... I feld that it could be good this time if Fanfaron did that one hour sooner... But i’m not used to “force” people to do things they don’t feel. Fanfaron lost a good occasion to have a family for himself alone, with a  nice sweet and confortable bed inside in a confortable house... These people were very nice, in any case... And I thank you again for the good moral help you gave to me all the time.

Best regards.


Val says the problem now is Fanfaron has got attached to Cecile and is happy there, what can I say.
Comments to

Salon du Goût at Najac

The 16th Salon du Goût at Najac 5th and 6 th of April, producteurs from all over France. Free entry times 10 h till 19h.
Degustations, ventes, animation diverses
Comments to

Folk'n 'Jazz at Verfeil sur Seye

Where can you go for a great evening of music, spot local talent, and sometimes even have a bit of a dance and all for free ? Of course its Folk'n'jazz at the salles des fetes in Verfeil on the last Thursday every month.
This Thursday special guests Martin's jazz band put on a great show, ably supported by the regulars back from their travels. The band had traveled all the way from Toulouse and performed their foot tapping music for over an hour. And it was all free! John was on great form and joined the band to sing a few numbers and the evening concluded with a rousing version of "mamma don't allow...." with Trevor on stage too.
Everyone left saying what a brilliant night it had been, now it's a case of follow that!
The next folk'n'jazz will be 24th April .Join us at Verfeil in the salles des fetes entrance is, as always, free. There are two more months planned at Verfeil before the traditional "summer tour".
If you have a hidden talent just needing an outlet the organisers would be pleased to hear from you, or if you want to be put on our email list to receive details of future events . contact or phone  05 63 67 93 35
Sue Carter
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You know our love of books.

Our love, interest and knowledge of books has resulted in being asked to join a panel of judges to decide on the beauty, quality, expertise etc. in a competition held in St. Antonin Noble Val. The Assoc. Mosaique en Val are organising for the 13th year a festival of handmade books.
We are going next Thursday to inspect the books and we are really looking forward to seeing these treasures. They will be on display to the public from Sat 12th of April in the Salle des Thermes.
Hope you will go along and see which we and the other judges liked best, and cast your vote for the public prize, although I am sure they all will be winners.
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Fanfaron is going to be adopted/ now changed to was

Hello Malcom and Valérie,

Today, two people from Dordogne (the refuge you indicated to me) come to see Fanfaron.. Wich is still at home. I explained to this people the help you gave to me to castrate the dog and they will be ok, in case of
Adopting Fanfaron, to give you something for the association... May be this could help you to help somebody esle.

In this eventuallity, can you tell me at wich name  we can make the gift? ... If they give me e chek.

Thank you Malcom and Valerie.

Best regards.


Val says I cried when I read this email, infact, tears are still running down my cheeks.
Cecile was kind enough to look after this dog for more than a year till a home could be found and YOU -  TAG readers paid for him to be castrated and chipped. We have waited so long for a happy ending. Let us hope all goes well as it is early days. The two associations I got Fanfaron's details put onto were Poor Paws in the Dordogne and Dog Links at Rodez. I will suggest to Cecile she asks the couple to give a donation to one of these rehoming sites.
Well it has made my day and another unrelated snippet Cecile Ordanoff got in as a councillor at Espinas.
I will also ask if she will give TAG's email address to the couple so they could tell us about his progress.
I shall now go and do cartwheels round the grounds!
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The best nudist beaches in France

Recently the American web site The Richest published the list of the 10 best nude beaches in the world.
The ranking took into consideration online reviews, location, amenities, privacy, sand quality, etc
In this list France not only shares with Spain (with the Canary and Baleares islands) the highest number of best naked beaches, each country counts 3 entries (Greece has 2, US and Croatia 1 each) but also the top place belongs to Port-Leucate naked beach situated in the department of Aude, halfway between the towns of Narbonne and Perpignan in the south west of France, on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea.
This nudist resort comprises 7 independent villages spread over an area of 45 000 m2 and includes the more then 1km long pristine beach – labeled Pavilion Bleu* – between the Grau de Leucate and the actual port of Leucate.
The other 2 French nude beaches the make the list are at number 10: Les Grottes Plage located on the island of Levant, off the coast of the Riviera, near Toulon and at number 8: the Euronat beach situated on the Atlantic coast, north west of Bordeaux, one of the biggest nude beaches in the world stretching over 150km.

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Lovely morning but a nip in the air

Blue sky and sun but with a cold nip in the air, that was at 7. 30 am. by now it is warming up. In the spring and summer we leave the front door open for the pets to come in and out, saves us jumping up and down, and it is definitely warm enough this morning. All the pets then seem to fall asleep on the doorstep in a little furry bundle of cats, dogs and hens, fortunately not donkeys!

Malc says  will you close the front door it is perishing!
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Cannot make the funeral but do not worry I will watch it on the web.

Henry Samuel writing in the Telegraph has written an article about the new ideas students who are training to be undertakers are learning. One of the schemes is making funerals available on the web. Granny on "You tube" springs to mind.

Philippe Martineau, director general of the Choix funéraire network, told Le Parisien.
“The internet is becoming increasingly important in our business,” said Mr Martineau. As well as advances such as making funerals arrangements on the web, he said “now those who can’t get there in person can follow the ceremony via live web streaming from their home”.
The idea is that family and friends living abroad who are unable to travel to pay their respects can log in to a special private weblink and stream coverage of funeral services, even the burial.
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Thursday, 27 March 2014

French band who wanted to learn English

Sue Carter is the official reporter for the Folk'n' Jazz Club and I am sure will be sending a report about the brilliant evening later, if you were not there you missed out.

The leader of Martin's Jazz Band is  called Deddy and talking to him at the end of the evening I said how much his English had improved, (he spoke English on stage) He tells me this is all down to TAG finding him and the group an English teacher when he placed an advert here about 6 months ago.
I thought there was not much chance as I did not think we had readers in the Toulouse area.
Connor Stickler son of the Jamie Stickler mentioned in a previous post,  is a student at University in Toulouse, heard about the job and  took up the challenge to teach the band English.
They are all really pleased with the young lads professionalism, so well done Connor Stickler.
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The Wild Ones,are on the way to the Tarn

Dear Val.
               Did you know what the price of a bottle wine is in Norway. €24 and that's the cheap stuff, you would drink water and that would taste better,
The Wild Ones.
Roger & Eileen

Roger and Eileen are moving from Norway to Le Riols in the Tarn

Dear all
                Were we hope to live it's so quite you can hear a pin drop.
Roger & Eileen.   
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Murmurs of French village life

I heard a friend  today saying " I love the murmurs of village life" The odd car slowly passing through, the murmur in the village street of villagers sitting out on the doorstep and chatting with someone passing by. The birds in the rooftops and barns... just the  quiet go slow charm of the village.

In comparison I thought the country is a noisy place, chain saws in the distance, chugging tractors, dogs barking, donkeys heehawing, kestrels shrieking, and Malc playing the piano!
Oh! for a bit of the peace and quiet of that village.
( Malc's piano playing is improving by the way, but slowly)
Comments to

Things not to do when driving

Do not wear high heeled shoes, listen to the radio, talk to passengers in the car, smoke cigarettes. If you have a crash and cite the other car to blame, you have little chance of winning as a Corsican lady found out after an accident and many court visits.
Val says  I have never had an accident but I have found driving in wellies quite dangerous, as with high heels they can get stuck under the pedals. I wonder if they contravene the highway code as high heels do?
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You are never to old for love... or a passionate murder

A vengeful 93-year-old Frenchman who wanted "to teach a lesson" to an 82-year-old love interest for rejecting his advances went on trial this week for brutally stabbing and beating her to death.
Marcel Guillot may look like your typical French "papy" (granddad), but French prosecutors say he is anything but.
They accuse the 93-year-old pensioner of breaking into the home of an 82-year-old woman, who had turned down his advances, before stabbing her to death in a fit of rage. 
The Guillots and the El Dibs had been friends for years, but over time Marcel Guillot began to feel something more for Nicole El Dib, the court heard. It came to a head when she asked Guillot to stay with for a few weeks while her husband was hospitalized with Parkinson’s Disease and her caretakers were away.  Taken from The Local
Val says   Poor woman and all she needed was a friend.
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A snip at half the price!

Closer magazine has been ordered by a court to pay €15,000 in damages to actress Julie Gayet over its exposé of her affair with the French President François Hollande.
Val says I wonder how much the magazine made by revealing the story? In marketing terms a shrewd move.

Jamie Stickler gives his point of view

Hello Val,
A few people have contacted me to commiserate that I was not successful in being elected in the local Najac elections.  Apart from being surprised that anyone would know (until someone mentioned they had read it on your blog) I thought a few words may be useful to give context.  I was asked and eventually agreed to standing in the municipal elections so to complete a team of 15 in opposition to the current mayor and his own team.

As a foreigner, resident and working in France and as an agriculteur selling organic produce locally it was felt I could add something to the campaign.  The team had a very interesting agenda which stood a chance of saving Najac falling off a very short plank, if it is to be any thing other that a summer tourist destination - we did get a 3rd of the vote which was not too bad for a radical agenda. Unfortunately no one in our team got in which is not too surprising given the Najac demographic and predicted support for the existing status quo.

We (the team) will continue to lobby to press this agenda and hopefully influence the councillors and mayor to consider, in a practical sense, what is to be done to revitalise the village.  If any of your readers would like to discuss any of the ideas we put forward I would be very pleased to have a conversation, especially for your readers who live in the commune.

Thanks Val


Visit us at:
Tel dom: 05 65 65 75 53
Tel Intl: ++33 5 65 65 75 53

Val says  Well  done Jamie for being integrated enough to be involved and we would love to hear more about your reasons for this at some point.
 Some of us who live here full time are so keen to integrate and understand local problems and politics and help do something about it... one of my expressions - "it does your heart good"
Comments to

The electricity we are told will be off from 9 till 1pm

Any interesting news stories will have to wait till after 1 pm as we have been warned electricity will be off all morning. Going down the road we saw the reason why... a line needing fixing down at Kestrel corner.
One of the problems with the old lines, electricity and telephone stringing and swinging across the country roads and fields.
 We dread a line down as it can take weeks to fix.
Comments to

Reminder tonight is the night

8pm at the Salles des Fetes Verfeil sur Seye,  MARTIN'S JAZZ band coming all the way from Toulouse, supported by the regular folkers.
See you there
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Take care Place Capitole

Not for the bag snatchers his time (though they are still about) but for the automatic traffic barriers. To control the circulation of cars through the Toulouse square a system of barriers has been installed which are buried in the ground and rise up when the lights turn red. It seems that they are not always visible if the car has stopped too close to the line and about 6/8 motorists per month simply run into them (out about 3000 per day). They must be pretty solid these "plots" - posts, as mainly the cars come off worst.

Visit the pont Saint Blaise at Najac

Samedi 29 mars, à 10 h 30 (rendez-vous à l'office de tourisme de Najac), l'Association des bastides propose une visite thématique du pont Saint-Blaise (renseignements : 05 65 45 74 63ou 06 14 48 48 55).

Val says we call this bridge " the troll bridge" with the grandchildren. It is a very narrow bridge with room for just one car and we tell the children a troll lives underneath and sing " I am a troll, fol de roll, and I 'll eat you for supper" as we drive over, adds to the excitement a bit! (taken from the song of the Three Billy Goats Gruff)
It is also the bridge where a friend and I had a "stand off" with a motor cycle. You must remember the story! 
Also where another friend damaged all the side of his car, it is narrow.
All that said it is a beautiful  spot with an interesting bridge (possibly with troll)

Villefranche de Rouergue suffers a spate of house thefts

You might see big yellow signs up around the town saying  "voisins vigilante" There have been numerous break ins over the last few months. As always late at night in Villefranche take care leaving articles in cars, the troubles are not yet over.
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Wednesday, 26 March 2014

If it saves death on the roads, they have got to be worth it!

James Bond-like mobile French speed cameras have secretly caught 300,000 speeders in the act since last year. And the numbers are likely to go up as France plans to double its fleet of mobile cameras in 2014.

Terry Tippett's new plans (and plants)

Hi Everyone
Just to let you know that a lot of exciting changes have taken place over the winter
 I have completely renovated & enhanced the garden centre with much more choice of perennials, annuals, herbs & veggie plants “not forgetting hanging baskets”.

There is much more on offer and as ever it’s all about high quality plants.
I will be opening 3 days a week… Thursdays, Fridays & Saturdays from 9am until 5pm starting on Thursday the 3rd of April and through to the end of June.
I am really looking forward to welcoming back old customers and meeting new ones as this garden year gets going

I will have special cream Tea days the dates are as follows:
 Sunday 25th May 10am – 5pm Fete des Meres 
Friday& Saturday 30th & 31st May 10am – 5pm 

If you would like to visit as a group or order some of your favourite plants please get in contact:

Tel :                05 63 24 21 46
Port :              06 02 22 64 59

E-mail :

Did you know your old Ercol is collected?

Take your feet off that vintage  Ercol coffee table Malc!
 It is worth 250 pounds!
There is a new book out by Lesley Jackson called "Ercol : furniture in the Making, of Lucian Ercolani
( 1888-1976)
One of the most successful furniture manufacturers of the post war period.

Just looked to see our refrectory table and two carvers and chairs listed. They are in the gite now, perhaps I need a damage disclaimer for renters, just on the Ercol.

Comments to

Coming all the way from Toulouse just to entertain us

Tomorrow night a rare treat in the area, a totally FREE evening, not even pay what you think it is worth. A  French group Martin's Jazz Band are coming all the way from Toulouse to the Salles des Fetes at Verfeil sur Seye to play for our pleasure.
We need to support them as it is such a generous gesture and what a way for a group of French men to give their time to us all,  our mixed nationality group. If we wanted to start forging links what better way.
Check out the band on their website      
and be there for a prompt start at 8 pm, bring a drink, glasses and nibbles  and come and enjoy what promises to be a super evening.
Comments to

Well we did ask ! and what an interesting reply.

Hi Val,
Who am I? Oh well, you've asked for it.
I am French, was born in the South-East about 50 years ago and was brought up in French speaking West Africa.
I was then educated in France and I studied English, which was absolutely no help when I went to Scotland as a French assistante.
Nothing I learnt from Shakespeare, Marlowe or Dickens was any help when it came to asking for a ticket to Kyle of Lochalsh or understanding the kids in Falkirk ("Miss, I dunna ken").
I fell in love with Scotland, decided to stay and studied Marketing in Glasgow (for some reason). 
My mother had told me, "never marry an Englishman" from a very young age, so of course I married a Mr Rose (descendant of the Scottish Clan Napier) and we left for Est Africa, my two children were born on a tea estate in Malawi. Having witnessed my second African revolution and getting tired of it, we came back to Paris.
I've had several jobs, trainer for adults for English and French as foreign languages, energy healer and therapist, responsable associatif, interpreter /translator...
I'm a huge fan of chocolate Hob Nobs, Faulty Towers and BBC period dramas. I make jewellery in my spare time and can cook a good curry.
To cut a long story short, I now live in St Antonin with my French companion, Olivier, and I make a living as a translator, specialised in subtitling among other fields of expertise (I have an MA from London University).
We are renovating a "maison d'hôte" behind the church in Ste Sabine with a view on the vallée de l'Aveyron and we will shortly start to take in people and small groups (we can accomodate 10 people max) for activities linked to alternative healing, nature, well-being, creativity... (or just family gatherings).
Re politics and this whole thing about getting the British involved: Thierry Leroy (head of our electoral list in St Antonin) is a neighbour and he asked me to join his list because he found that being a independant worker working from home and a "porteur de projet", I represented the sort of people that are needed to revitalize this region.
When we met, I told him: "We have to speak to the British, you know, they are very collective minded, I'm sure they would love to mix more and would bring a lot to the community" and that's how the whole thing started, really, very simply.
We had intented to liaise with all foreign communities but of course it all seems more difficult now, we'll see what happens in the near future.
I hope this will satisfy your curiosity. Please feel free to contact me:
Laure Rose
Val says very interesting Laure. I do hope the new Maire and his team have the sense to use your strengths to help liaisons within the different community groups.  I will file this letter in "Face to Face" if Doreen agrees.
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