Saturday, 31 May 2014

A disappointing TOF's report for the Auberge des Sens

Hi Val
After reading the reviews - and with Ginny's help - I at last made it to the Auberge des Sens. I think for me it was a 3 rather than a 5 (for the food, not the access!). Although nicely presented, the starter was very small. My fish main course was lovely, but it was the dessert that really disappointed. I ordered tarte tatin and got 2 hard biscuits, a slice of apple, a bit of meringue and some ice cream. Not what I was expecting! The service was good, though, but I'll stick to looking at the river from Carre Gourmet.
Comments to

Who wins the nutty as a fruitcake prize?

UKIP win everything these days!
Lifted from Private Eye by Gill Catterall
Val says for our French readers " nutty" means " bonkas" ! which means mad as a hatter! or " fou"
Comments to

Time for " yummy" ice cream

For tag
Time for icecream. With fruit galore this year, one must make some icecream with the surplus fruit! Here is a simple recipe that doesn’t require an icecream making machine. It’s so simple that’s it’s not even funny…. 1kg fruit, 500gr crème fraiche, 500g sugar. Put all ingredients in a blender, blend for a couple of minutes, pour in freezer compatible plastic boxes and that’s it!!! My sister Bibi uses this recipe every year with her strawberries, raspberries, blackscurrants and gooseberries and they are such delight in summer….If you want to make sorbet then you need a machine to brake the crystals, as you don’t use cream. I am off to make some icecream with my 2 kgs of strawberries I’ve just picked. I hope you make loads this year!!!!

Can any one recommend a small roofer?

The storm last night reminded us that we need to have our chimneys repointed or the flashing replaced. Couvreurs and builders have said "oh yes, no problem", but simply failed to appear to do it. The job is too small. Any ideas?

Charles says
Hi Val
What's the maximum height allowed for the small roofer?
replies to

Two more proud runners in the 3 rocs

Ascension Day is the traditional day for cross country runs - either 48k, 24k or a walk of 16k. Here's Vanessa Ainsworth's son
Toby and girlfriend Jenny enjoying a beer at the end. Toby came 8th out of
160 doing the long run and Jenny did the 24k by mistake! Proud Mummy - must have been all that training by John in his youth!
Val says and they can stand on their heads! till Malc gets back to twizzle them
Comments to
Malc says: duly twizzled - why are all the pics of the Trail of people drinking beers - was any actual running done?

The language of birds

In many ways simpler than the French language, yesterday we saw two golden orioles flying straight past us, an unusual sighting of these shy birds, their whistle once heard is easily distinguished.
On the lane in the dark coming homing late I saw a baby owl newly fledged sitting in the road bedazzled by the cars headlights. Sitting writing this morning I heard the voice of our kestrel, now very disinctive to us. The darling popped in to his old nest just to check out he and his partner had made the right decision to nest in the pigeonnier in fields lower down.
A redstart is nesting in a bird box in the courtyard and he flies around us cheep,cheeping.
Our blue tits nesting in the house wall have fledged and flown
No problem with integrating with the birds up here at Mas del Sol!
Roger  our friend says he was not long behind me and also had pleasure seeing the baby owl just fledged. Let us hope the next person along saw and avoided him as well.
Comments to

I think we have been given a wake up call, everything in the garden is not coming up roses.

Marine le Pen and the FN party doing so well in the European elections gives one a jolt. Here in Varen the party was only two votes off winning outright. In Verfeil sur Seye the FN came top. I must check what happened in St. Antonin.
Now however you look at it we do not have any Romanians at all in these two villages but we do have plenty of  UK residents and Dutch. So who is the vote partially against here? I am not saying there are not nationwide factors but we have to face facts we need to make more efforts to fit in.
Once again it is the language that is the barrier, you come, you should learn French. It is difficult, you will stumble, you won't always get it right but we have to try harder. I know my French is not the best but it is improving daily and I am persevering.
Yesterday I spoke French all day as I only met French people. I spent the morning canvassing for judges and for support for the Salon du jardin. Sadly numerous French people when I discussed the salon and our mixed nationality group working together, the villagers said " but the problem is you newcomers do not speak our language so how can you integrate." Once again the getting together in big English speaking groups was mentioned, so it is not going to be a simple task.
What concerns me most is it is not just the older Varenois who have this perception but the young French people who because of our young French neighbours we have got to know, generally think we are standoffish and refuse to learn the language.
Easy to dismiss  and say " so what" and get on with our anglophone lives but I think we do so at our peril.
We learn French,build on making French friends or eventually life will becoming uncomfortable and we will leave.
These are my views and I welcome yours.

Comments to

He is known as " the master of black"

Pierre Soulages, arguably France’s most famous living artist, is known as a master of the colour black. A museum dedicated to his life’s work opened on Friday in Rodez, a town in the south of France where he was born.

If there’s one thing that Pierre Soulages resents, it’s the idea that his career is behind him.
Although the artist is 94, retirement could not be further from his mind. He is still active, creating works either in his studio in Paris or in Sète, a French town on the Mediterranean coast where he splits his time.       Comments to

President Hollande opened the Rodez Musuem which holds works of Soulages

Yesterday the Soulages Musuem at Rodez was opened by the President. Pierre Soulages has donated many of his works worth millions of euros to be held in this new musuem. The exhibition and opening  was featured on French TV and the abstract dark many black  pictures did not really appeal to me. I think we need to visit and view and maybe then the large canvases will have more appeal. If anyone goes before us please tell us about the new building  and the art works by Pierre Soulages.
The  present exhibition is temporary as other paintings are on loan from other musuems

En 2010, l'exposition Soulages au Centre Pompidou à Paris avait accueilli un demi-million de visiteurs. Le musée de Rodez table sur 150 000 visiteurs par an.
L'artiste – dont une peinture de 1959 s'est vendue l'an dernier à plus de 5 millions d'euros aux enchères à Londres – a fait don de 500 œuvres et documents au musée : 100 œuvres sur papier, 130 estampes, 35 peintures sur toile, trois bronzes, une trentaine de plaques de cuivre et les cartons préparatoires aux vitraux que le peintre conçut spécialement pour un chef-d'œuvre de l'art roman, l'abbatiale de Conques. Une sélection de 21 très grands tableaux baptisés «Outrenoir» fait l'objet à Rodez d'une exposition temporaire exceptionnelle, grâce aux prêts de grands musées européens.

Friday, 30 May 2014

Having an event in your garden?

After the Picnic in the Park Wed 23rd of July if anyone is organising an event raising money for a charity, our 9x4 metre grandly named marquée will be available for free. If you are having a family party or musical event  in the garden the cost to borrow will be 30 euros. Please ask if you want further details.
Comments to

2 sofas, 2 chairs for sale


4 piece suite - two really comfortable armchairs plus two roomy (2-3
seater) sofas.  Good solid  furniture but a bit tired.  All covers
removable and washable, one zip on a cushion seat needs replacing
Price all in 100€ o.n.o., plus €10 to TAG charity of buyer's choice.
Can deliver free within 30 mins of St. Antonin/Caylus or further
afield at a small charge.  Contact 05 63 31 70 84  or  06 74 646 647
anytime. "

Is it a bit Essex that name?

Prince Albert II of Monaco and Princess Charlène have announced they are expecting a baby at the end of the year.
Sorry to any readers called Charlène, but is it really a name for a Princess?
Val says I have just said to Malc, will that jest get me into trouble? Only with Charlene's was the reply.

" happy diab" what a good idea.

bonjour Val et Malcolm,
vos lecteurs seront peut-être intéressés par le lancement dans le Tarn d'une "cuisine" pour diabétiques : de grands et moins grands restaurants affichent un logo "happy diab' " dans un rond jaune. La liste s'obtient en allant sur le site et en cliquant à droite dans le logo jaune.
J'ai bien envie de leur demander s'ils connaissent les restaurants "gluten free"...
Val says Nadette at  Espinas is a mine of information. She tells us that there are now restaurants which 
specialise in meals for diabetics and the restaurants have a logo called " happy diab"
She  also wonders if anyone knows of gluten free restaurants?

Folk'n' Jazz is two years old

New faces, both on stage and in the audience, ensured another successful evening at folk'n'jazz which,after two years, goes from strength to strength. Regulars  Brian, Gavin, John, Linda and Trevor performed a wide ranging repetoire individually and collectively and we  had some good rousing choruses ( I like those as I get a chance to sing in my own special key). We were also entertained  by Ian ( returned from his travels), Rana ( making a welcome second visit) and newcomers to the scene Roger and Eileen. Thanks to all the performers and to John for organising and compereing the evening. Everyone had a great time and left looking forward to the start of the ever popular Folk'n'jazz "summer tour " where we go on the road to a different outdoor venue each month. This year we have a garden, a barn and a chateau lined up for the last Thursdays of June, July and August. We start on June 26th with a return to the "birthplace" of folk'n'jazz Mas de Sol near Varen More details will follow during the month.
Sue Carter
Comments to
Roger and Eileen, fresh from Norway

Securing gravitas for our Salon

Have I worked well this morning ," je me demande?"
 The answer is brilliantly well and I have achieved a veritable coup.
Our  judges are finalised for the  gardening section of  " Le Salon du jardin d'été" and we have some prestigious gardening names amongst them
President of the jury will be famed gardener Jean Donies ( my nickname for him is "Jean du Jardin" as in film star fame) Jean and partner have created an extraordinary garden on the edge of Varen/ Arnac/ Cambou. Last year the gardens which are open to the public were in all the gardening magazines, eg. Mon jardin, ma maison. etc. If you have an opportunity to go and look and take visitors it is a lovely day out.
I am proud to announce he is delighted to be involved and as well as heading the judges will present the awards to the winners of the vegetable, fruits and flower section.
I am not finished there as other notables on the jury will be John and Debbie from Les jardin Des  Espiemonts, TAG's two popular gardening contributors.
Then Sylvie Gravier from Les Jardins des Bastides at Milhars.
Jean Gros known in the commune as one of the best gardeners.
Possibly Emile Cere, a gentleman of 90 who still loves his garden, this name to be confirmed.
Other judges for other categories are still to be confirmed.
Comments to

Single mattress needed

Hi Val
 will be having foot surgery in mid June and have arranged to hire a
hospital bed to use for a short time after the surgery. Apparently it does
not come with a mattress so I wonder if anyone has a clean standard single
mattress (90 x 190 I think) that I could buy or loan?
Thank you. Hope all is well at Mas del Sol.

How many of us would be so generous?

Imagine winning 72 million euros on the lottery and then giving 50 million to be divided amongst 10 major charities. That is just what a winner in Haute Garonne did with the January jackpot. Most of us dream of houses, yachts, holidays etc. and but do we say that our favourite charities would also benefit? It seems that other big winners do just that. According to Francaise des Jeux, who organise the French lotto, winners often earmark part of their wealth to help local good causes. It's good to know that some people remain unselfish in the world of today (and don't say with 22 million left he can afford it - it's all relative).
comments to

Sportilac at Parisot, June 15th

Journee sportive pour les enfants et leurs familles........Miss Parisot

(pour les hommes), Course de radeaux, zumba kids, zumba, urban dance, yoga,

basket, judo, bio dance,  plus plus plus. Entree 5 euro par voiture
15th June 12to17h  contact

Randonnee at Ginals

Sunday 1st June, 9.30am at "Est Igne" for a circuit of 20 kms (or shorter for the less courageous). Bring a pic-nic. No dogs, please.
To explore this rather lovely, mainly wooded part of our corner join the group organised by the Ginals Comite de Fetes.
 Inscriptions au 06 18 13 45 23, 06 26 74 10 58 ou 05 63 65 70 03, http ://,
Tarifs : adultes (à partir de 15 ans), 2 €; enfant de 5 à 14 ans, 1 €.
comments to

Praises for Carpetman at Montauban

Good Morning Val,
Recently I have been looking for a covering for my dusty studio floor and decided to go for a grey lino. Finding it was a task and a half, unless I was prepared to pay over the odds for what would after all not be my 'salon'. I vaguely remembered an ad on Taglines and phoned Carpetman. This resulted in a visit to their showroom in Montauban - good selection, great advice, courtuous service. Today, precisely one week later, I am itching to get back into mon atelier, free of dust and my floor a picture in itself. I just wanted to give a big thumbs up to Steve who  very professionally delivered and laid the lino and Jean Christophe who was helpful and knowledgeable in the showroom. Great firm to do business with.
Oh and by the way around September I plan to have an Open Studio weekend where you can both see the floor and some paintings as well.
Kind regards,
Val says the feedback about Carpetman is always good.

Lovely evening at the folk club

A small but dedicated group of  people who enjoy their folk music were joined last night by Roger and Eileen, the new to France English couple who have lived for the last 20 years in Norway. Rana was back from working in England over the winter and these new performers joined the usual stalwart performers for a lovely foot tapping night. I really enjoy these evenings, the music, the camaraderie and next month the club will be celebrating its 2 years of musical evenings.
The first ever evening of the clubs inception was at Mas del Sol and for the next meeting, last Thursday in June it will once again be at Mas del Sol. Let us make it a celebration of two years of great free entertainment. Every evening is free and all the performers do it for the pleasure, these nights remind me of family get togethers when we were young, when my Dad got out his accordion and played whatever anyone wanted to sing to.
So what is happening at Mas del Sol this summer.
We are hosting the  always free Folk'n' Jazz on the last Thursday in June starting at 8 pm. Arriving just after 7.30pm, have a fold up chair in the back of the car but only carry it in if we ask. We have 50 spare chairs in place.

Then on Wed July 23rd we have our " Picnic in the Park" extravaganza arriving at 7pm, a night of Dixieland Jazz with Martin's Jazz Band. The tickets for this evening are 15 euros and every penny will go to the Association Via Sahel Enfants d' Afrique. We have to pay the band but we are in negociations with the group about this as they want to do what they can to help to feed and educate starving street children. We will let you know how this develops. We have 52 booked in and we are hoping to sell 100 tickets. If you cannot come for any reason we would be more than delighted to be given donations big or small. I am not afraid to beg to save the life of a child. This is our" big "yearly fundraiser so please support us with this fun event.
Comments to

What do the French know..

that we don't? Reading in the French press this morning we note that in the 10th minute of the Toulon-Castres Top 14 playoff tomorrow (Saturday 31st May) the British national anthem "God Save the Queen" will be played to honour No. 10 "Sir Jonny Wilkinson" (sic), who playing his last game for Toulon.
As far as Taglines knows Jonny, who has an OBE, has not yet been knighted.
comments to

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Book your space now for the vide grenier at Espinas

 Si le coeur vous en dit, voici l'annonce du vide-grenier+vide-dressing d'Espinas du 15 juin. Les inscriptions ont commencé fort, ne tardez pas... Notez que l'emplacement est gratuit (dans la limite de 5m maximum).
c/o Coralie,organisatrice,
Val says book your space which is free for the vide grenier and clothes exchange, Sunday June 15th, a lively village is Espinas   Tel 0679316457
Comments to

Well done Karen Sweeting and Fiona, completing the 3 rocs

My friend Fiona, who came down from Paris, and me at the end of a very tough run this morning

Could you love me?

Ces trois chiots shar-pei sont nés à la campagne le 14 avril 2014 
il y a 2 mâles et une femelle d'une porté de 3
ils seront disponible le 14 juin 2014
pucé et primo vaccin seront effectué par nos soins et il vous sera délivré un certificat de bonne santé
la maman G'nala de la fontaine verte n°250269801534706
le papa Gold Panonia Hugo Boss - Multi champion international - 
Puce : 688050000669904
These three shar-pei puppies are born in the country April 14, 2014 
there are 2 males and a female of a focused 3 
they will be available June 14, 2014 
chipped and primary vaccine will be made ​​by us and you will be issued a certificate of good health 
Mom G'nala green fountain No. 250269801534706 
Dad Pannonia Gold Hugo Boss - Multi International Champion - 

Anyone going to Toulouse Sunday morning?

Is there anyone going to Toulouse with space in the car for two passengers, an early flight leaving Toulouse at 10.30am. The couple needing a lift live in Verfeil but could get anywhere in the St. Antonin, Caylus, Varen  area.
Contact  The Burrows

Found on our land

Hi ValI just wanted to share with you this amazing orchid I found growing in some long grass. I looked it up and I'm pretty sure it's a lizard orchid.
There are definitely some advantages to not being neat and tidy and allowing nature to do her own thing!  Although it wasn't intentional on our part we just hadn't got around to cutting all the grass yet. 
Alison Mann
Val says  finding orchids is wonderful, we get excited each time. It looks like a lizard orchid, not uncommon but still a delight, well done?
Comments to

Somewhere lost in France an Arsenal flag flies

Around the country lanes we spotted a house with an Arsenal flag drapped around the gates. Arsenal have just won the FA cup in England. They do have a French manager and some French players, so might be understood by the French, but we happen to know it is an English couple.
I smiled when I quickly wrote the heading in error as " flag flies"  nasty things those, get everwhere!
 comments to

Exposition at the Abbaye de Beaulieu

Verfeil sur Seye tonight, Folk'n'Jazz

Folk 'n'Jazz this evening at Verfeil sur Seye, 8pm in the Sale des Fetes.
Take your cheque books to pay for your tickets for " Picnic in the Park" with Martin's Jazz Band on Wed 23rd of July.
Also I will have the programmes to give to people interested in the Salon du jardin d'été which is in Varen Salle des fetes on Sat. July 19th
Comments to

green lizards

Peter Hughes writes:
I took these photos of a pair of Green Lizards (Lacerta viridis) in our garden three years ago. The Green Lizard, which with the tail measures up to 40 cm, is the largest lizard of central Europe. It makes its appearance in April & the breeding season lasts until June
In the breeding season the male has a bright blue throat & a more robust head. The throat loses some of its colour when their period of sexual activity ceases.
For the full story and more amazing pictures go to Wild Photos
comments to 

A knife fight in the centre of Villefranche de Rouergue

 In the centre of Villefranche there is a small enclave of social housing, one of the residents became drunk and abusive and was attacked by another resident  and in the melée a knife appeared and one of them received cuts to his face. The drunken resident was arrested by the gendarmes. Quite often trouble is reported in Villefranche so although one should not stop visiting such a lovely town, one should be aware and be vigilant.
Comments to

The seventh tennis tournament starts soon at St. Antonin

There is a really buoyant tennis club at St.  Antonin Noble Val, if interested in playing,watching and joining in the sport and having fun contact below.
Inscriptions au 05 63 30 68 92 (club-house) ou par e-mail :

Fêtons l'eau at St. Antonin this weekend

Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val. «Fêtons l'eau!», deuxième édition

Go to the Tourist office for all the information or telephone   0563306347

Little girl found with the help of media and social media

Many people check their facebook and linkedin sites every day and the word was passed through the internet  by the worried Mother of this little girl that she had gone missing. It was also announced on BBC Oxford News
A happy result late yesterday when the little girl was found safe.
The little girl missing was the niece of our daughter and son in law.

Comments to

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Spiced Cuisine cometh

Val says I am reliably informed that the ladies have some new " thai dishes" on offer. Contact them for more details and why not add to your order.

Good luck with that claim

Hi Val

Our heating is entirely electric (pompe-à-chaleur), so the claim we've put in is for over 750€.

x Anon 

More free kittens

Hi Val
 So happy to hear that Jane has found a good home for her kittens. I too have two kittens that will be ready to go to new homes in about 8 weeks: 1 pure white, one pure black and one mostly black with a little white. They are the offspring of a stray kitten we found in our garden in a couple of months ago, who we've only recently been able to get close to - she's still a bit wild. As the kittens have been born in the house, they will be nice and tame by the time someone comes to collect them. We'll keep one - we don't mind which - but with the Mum and our other cat (who's had the snip!), 3 is our limit. 
Yours hopefully....
 Director/Wedding Planner

At Parisot Library


critically acclaimed author of OBEDIENCE and KISSING ALICE
will be giving a reading from her latest novel 


in the Parisot Library on Saturday 7th June at 10.30.
We are extremely lucky to have such an acclaimed author in our midst, and many of you will remember her very interesting talk two years’ ago when ‘Obedience’ was published.    I have just finished her new novel Marlford which I loved, and without giving away too much of this beautiful and deep story, here is a description of the book:

‘Ellie Barton has spent her young life living in the dilapidated manor house with her elderly father.   Her duty is to her aristocratic lineage, something of which she is often reminded by those few people around her.   But Marlford, the local village founded by her grandfather, is in decay - subsidence from the old salt mines is destroying the buildings, the books in the memorial library are mouldering, and old loyalties and assumptions are shifting.   When two idealistic young men decide to squat in the closed wing of the house, they show her a world much wider than Marlford, and Ellie begins to feel trapped beneath the unbearable weight of history and expectation’.

Jacqueline will give a talk and reading followed by questions and we will finish with aperitifs.   Do put the date in your diaries.   

Please forward this message to others who may be interested.

(Due to teaching commitments Jacqueline Yallop is unable to participate in this year’s Literary Festival due to be held in October).

Gina Connolly
Parisot Library

City Lights Orchestra

À l'occasion de la Nuit Pastel d'Albi, le Centre d'art le Lait vous invite à participer à City Lights Orchestra, une symphonie lumineuse aux fenêtres de la ville, créée par Antoine Schmitt.

Cette performance urbaine est activée par les habitant.e.s et passant.e.s de la ville. Chacun peut interpréter la partition de cette symphonie, composée pour accepter un nombre illimité de participant.e.s. Il suffit de connecter ordinateur, smartphone ou tablette à l'adresse pour transformer la ville entière en orchestre !

Une fois connecté, vous pouvez quitter les lieux et descendre dans la rue à la rencontre de vos voisin.e.s, échanger en bas des immeubles, vous abandonner à une contemplation romantique... Simple geste poétique, intervention insolite, clin d'œil dans la ville : City Lights Orchestra offre autant de notes qu'il y a d'interprètes de sa symphonie !

Nous vous donnons rendez-vous ce samedi 7 juin dès la tombée de la nuit pour interpréter et contempler la symphonie. Des Moulins Albigeois au Parc Rochegude, tout au long du parcours de la Nuit Pastel. 


pas très loin  de chez nous, des concerts intéressants et de qualité sur 29 ' Saint Christophe, à l'église Saint Dalmaze; le 30 à Lagarde-Viaur; le 31 à Bor et Bar ( 17h, René et moi y allons); le 1er à Jouqueviel.
on peut aussi contacter : ou téléphoner au

Ignore these emails

A couple of readers have received emails from a Swiss agency offering to advertise their property to Swiss clients eg

.http://tag-on-line.blogspot/Dog%20rehoming est un site immobilier dont les biens à louer et à vendre vont intérésser nos visiteurs.

House and flat est un site d'annonces immobilières gratuites en Suisse.Différentes catégories sont prévues comme les locations pour les vacances ou l'immobilieren vente hors Suisse.

Vous pouvez vous inscrire et poster vos annonces gratuitement en cliquant sur le site  ...

They have worried that Taglines' address list has been sold or compromised. We can assure you that Taglines distribution list is held in a secure server and not on our computers. And all distributions are "blind copies" so no addresses appear.
But the clue is in the web address above in the last part "Dog%20rehoming" - that was an announcement of a dog to be re-homed and the lady's email was in that post. Others being contacted like this have had adverts or announcements containing an email address. I think it is simply a "web bot" which trawls the internet for email addresses and should you receive a such an email just ignore it.
comments to


Comme chaque année , nous participons à la manifestation nationale organisée par le ministère de la culture: "Les Rendez-vous aux jardins".
Cette année le thème national est "L'enfant au jardin"
J'ouvre à cette occasion mon jardin privé samedi 31 Mai et Dimanche 1er Juin : visite guidée, jeux et surprises pour les enfants, démonstration de forge par Milan Gravier le samedi....
Merci de venir nombreux en famille et avec les enfants participer à cette fête des jardins et du jardinage.
Sylvie Gravier

Mind how you drive in Aveyron

Worried about the number of fatal injuries on the roads of the Aveyron (34 killed in 2013, the worst year since 2000) the local police called in the "motoflics", policemen on motorcycles, from the Bordeaux brigade. In one week they issued 331 tickets for various offences, from speeding to not wearing seat belts. Using the telephone at the wheel is common, and 4 positive alcohol tests were taken. The offences were not confined to cars, with HGV and motor bikes also found to be breaking the law. With 11 deaths in the first 4 months of 2014, the department is well on the way to keeping up its grisly record. Interestingly no fatal injuries were recorded during the week the motards were visible on the roads. Police warn that Aveyronnais need to change their behaviour or the roads will remain a dangerous place to be.
comments to
Malc says destroying the radar at Maleville shows the contempt some motorists there have for road safety.

Trail des 3 Rocs, and how the day will go, good luck everyone

à partir de 6 heures : remise des dossards place du Pradel ; à 7 h 30 : départ des 48 km ; à 8 h15 : départ des 24 km ; à 8 h 30 : départ des marcheurs ; à 8 h 45 : départ de la course des enfants ; à 11 heures : remise des récompenses et à partir de 12 heures : repas à la salle des Thermes. C'est par le pot de l'amitié et une somptueuse paëlla que s'est terminée cette soirée des bénévoles.

It's sew good at Monesties

Sunday June 1st a date "incontournable" in the diaries of you avid participants in patchwork, sewing, knitting and all things creative with textiles. The Monestiés Patch group is holding its annual  Puces de la couturière. Every thing you could need and expos to look at. And Monesties is a pretty little place to spend a few hours.
comments to
PS and in the evening in the church is a performance of Mozart's Requiem, with 140 chorists and musicians. 10 euros.

Police appeal - man missing with three year-old daughter

They are unlikely to be In France, but the more people who can share the link the more likely someone will spot them and help return Tanith to her Mum. Can your UK readers help?

Please can you put this link on your facebook sites, more will be explained at a later date.
Val says I am told that the little girl has now been found safe and well.
Comments to

Welcome to the world,little Evie

Here is one lucky little girl born yesterday, little Evie, named after her grandmother ( my sister)who sadly died too early from cancer. Evie is a very lucky little girl having four half brothers, David age 9 in the picture, also Mum Sue and tired looking Dad Myles. The four boys have visited Varen every year for the past 12 and I have to warn residents they are coming so they can evacuate !!!
Good luck and our thoughts are with you all and keep on with the "sanatogen"Grandad Tudor
Comments to

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Sad times

Hi Val
I was heartened today at a patchwork workshop in the area to hear general horror at the outcome of the european elections amongst my french friends. One person kept repeating but what has happened to liberté, égalité, fraternité. Maybe, just maybe, both here and in England people may stop to think about where all this leads and sense  may yet prevail -in the long term.  At the moment it all seems even more depressing as this year marks the anniversary of the outbreak of the first world war - as Pete Seeger 's song says " when will they ever learn?"

Sue C

Comments to

Tous a table, tous ensemble.

At Verfeil sur Seye we are all invited to go and eat together in the Halle Sunday  June 8th at midday. Take everything you need like a picnic, glasses, plates and things to share and join in the " bonne humeur"
What a lovely idea and good for your French conversation as well.
Comments to

Portes Ouvertes at the studio of Claude Nicaud

Thurs, Fri, Sat and Sunday the doors of the artistes studio will be open from 10h tp 19h sans interruption. The atelier can be found at Brousses les Antibels in the Gorges de l' Aveyron.
Tel 0563306678 site internet

Guitar teacher needed

Hi Val,
I hope you don't mind passing this on, but it could be of interest to your readers.
We are part of a private music school in Gaillac ( that offers lessons in singing, piano, violin, drums and guitar (to name a few). Sadly, our guitar teacher has just announced that he will not be able to carry on next year so we are looking for a new one to start in September. There will be some of his students who wish to carry on, and there will be enquiries from new students at the begining of term. I would love to hear from anyone who may be able to step into his shoes. We need someone who can speak French (practically all our students are French) and who can teach beginners (children and adults) and perhaps give more advanced lessons in technique and style (demand varies from rock and jazz to classical), we also need to provide some musical theory lessons for all our students so knowledge of this is quite important.
Based on our current student count we would need someone prepared to work on at least 2 days per week.
If you would like more information on how the school operates and what sort of fees we charge etc. you can call me on:
Or you can send me an email at
Thank you in advance !
Joanne Nebbia
Val says Can you pass this on to Godefroy, guitar maker at Parisot, Becky, he may know someone who would be interested.

Salon du Jardin d' été

Malc spent all day yesterday redoing the programme for the Salon du Jardin trying to get it to fit onto 4 sheets.  This morning it was completed and Malc rolled about laughing when I said  I was going off to the Mairie to ask to have 100 sheets  copied 4 times.
I bravely went and tiptoed in to the new Mairie, trying to forget that in the previous 12 years I usually came out with a flea in my ear. Michou the adjoint was on duty and was all smiles when I asked for the copies. I am calling back tomorrow to pick them up and then we will be able to give them to interested parties. I am hoping we will need to print many more but we shall see.
Malc has made a super job of the programmes, very tastefully produced, once again he has my thanks, we are a great pair in a team.
Marcia is working away letting all the various committees in Varen know about the event , Julia is helping with the French, Nicole is finding French judges from the villagers and me, what am I doing, erm! organising!
Comments to

Sad that intelligent people take that line

Someone who wishes to remain anonymous has pointed out that she knows of some intelligent and educated people who have voted UKIP.
Well, that saddens me even more somehow.

I have a platform and speaking out about racist attitudes seems to me to be more vital than ever at the moment and if you agree and someone tries to tell you that UKIP and the FN are alright, read their manifestos and listen to their terrible rhetoric. Then remember the Second World War and the treatment of Jews and  then please  speak out and tell deluded people to think again, even if they are supposed to be educated and intelligent.
Comments to

How the figures break down

In Varen we are a commune of about 660 people eligible to vote.
On the day 317 people voted, 18 ballot papers were spoilt.
68 people voted Socialist, the next group were the FN at 66, very close to winning.
The green party got 43 votes, and 37 voted UMP.
In Tarn and Garonne 47% of people voted and the FN got 30% overall.
The vote turn out was very low in the UK at 37%
None of it good news.
On English TV I heard a reporter talking about where the Farage vote came from and as you would expect it tended to be  uneducated, low paid, out of work, people who feel their views do not count, whereas the voters for Europe are the educated, in work, holiday in Europe sort of people. The same will apply in France I am sure.
 How we resolve this I do not know but it is imperative we do.

Charles who is against sterilsation of  cats says
Hi Val,
 If we sterilise all the uneducated, low paid and out of work people and cats, in a few years time we would have a cat free stable EU.
Would that resolve your problem?
Val says It is a problem  not just for me but for anyone who has a racial heritage different to us, to Jews who do not want to be stigmatised, it is a problem for all people caring of humanity, and cats are a different proposition not being human!

Comments to

Cannabis in the centre of Castelsarrasin

A serre, one of those plastic greenhouses in the middle of Castelsarrasin was full of cannabis plants which from the picture in the Depeche, for all the world looks like my windows full of tomato plants.( My plants are now safely in the garden and as they have yellow flowers, I think I am safe,)
A young couple both aged below 29 were growing them in the garden of their pavilion. I think I am right in saying a pavilion is one of those modern constructions, often a bungalow. The couple were both taken into custody.
Comments to

The Caylus sheep have vanished

Taken away by the Mayor finally. One sheep was stolen and the others had been wrenched partially from their solid bases. As a matter of safety, it would need a rope attached to a 4x4 to pull them out, obviously a dangerous manoevre. Great pieces of art, let us hope a safer place for exhibiting them can be found.
Comments to

A mist in the valley morning

All my readers know I love my early morning out in the fields with the various pets. This morning althought the sun is not shining it was not cold. The mist was swirling down below in the valley making the inhabitents of Varen caught in its chilly web.
It is beautiful and fresh up here after the rain yesterday, birds singing, baby birds everywhere you look. Our kestrel is nesting 3 fields down in an old disused pigeonnier, I could just see him circling, oddly we do not see him up here hunting in our fields. We think the pair might have given us the thumbs down as we have had the gite in constant use, people on the terrace and the fire lit which as the chimney runs up next to the nest might have made it uncomfortably warm.
The donkeys are in fine form and all enjoyed my chat and stroke, they push each other for attention and I have to be careful to share the cuddles equally. In the 8 months we have looked after Filou and Coco they have changed enormously and now come like my girls for a cuddle without the encouragement of food.  Enough about donkeys, have a lovely day everyone.
Comments to

Monday, 26 May 2014

Pepper and the two new kittens

Hi Val,
Here's a picture of Pepper and the kittens - so sweet seeing  them all cuddling up!

Hi Val again
We've been having a lovely time getting to know our new kittens (that didn't cost £800!) They are settling into their new home very nicely and the dog and the kids all love them. How useful TAG is for every aspect of our lives in France.  Since moving here, you've facilitated us with furnishing our home (we bought a fridge), establishing our business (loads of our gardening and nursery customers come from TAG), learning about local facilities and events,  and now adding new family members. Keep up the good work!
Love Debbie
P.s. I'm sending you a photo of the kittens making themselves comfortable on Pepper's bed.
P.p.s. Will give you a cheque for one of the charities when I see you at the gardening group meeting next month. 

Val says  how happy all that makes me feel
Comments to

Rendezvous aux jardins

Dear Val,

I just want to alert garden lovers to the fact that the National open gardens weekend is happening next weekend on 30, 31 May and 1st June.   My garden and gallery, La Barriere,  Lacapelle-Livron  ( 4kms. north of Caylus ) will be open on Saturday and Sunday from 10am - 6 pm.  There are lots of public and private gardens taking part throughout the Midi-Pyrenees so it’s an opportunity to feast your eyes on the rainbow spectrum of gardening in the area.  The website www. rendezvousauxjardins.culture.frwill give the details of all the gardens in the area which will be open with opening times and directions.
We are , of course,  hoping for a gloriously sunny weekend ,  but whatever the weather I’m sure it will be a great occasion.
best wishes,

Today, a very grave moment in the history of France and for Europe

The French political establishment, the Gaullist UMP and Socialists, were in disarray last night after the far-Right Front National convincingly won the EU election to become France's largest political party in the EU assembly.
"It will mean that France would disappear from Europe's political scene. It would be a tragedy for our country," warned Alain Lamassoure, representing the opposition centre-Right UMP for the Paris area.
Socialist sources close to President Hollande spoke of "a new crisis of authority" and market turbulence for his beleaguered administration that struggling to pull France out of recession.
"Tonight is the start of the crisis. The shock in Europe and the world will be very violent if the far-Right comes first in France," said a senior aide. 
President Hollande has called a crisis cabinet meeting on Monday morning to discuss his government's response to the biggest political upheaval in a generation.
Manuel Valls, the Socialist prime minister, described the result as a "very grave moment for France and Europe".
"This result is more than a new warning: it's a shock, an earthquake," he said.
Reported in the Telegraph

Pet euthanasia

Dear Val
This may be a bit late but its a wet day!
Its not just unwanted pets who are euthanised in America and indeed all over the world. My daughter who lives in Oregon has just taken the decision to put her much loved 12 year old rescue cat to sleep. Freckles has lost over 20% of her body weight since Christmas and has been to the vet many times. Rather than go for expensive tests or questionable and invasive surgery, they have taken the difficult decision that Freckles should go next weekend. The decision was a family one and their nine year old son was included in the decision making process. He is now busy making up poems and songs to remember her by and giving her many extra cat treats.
Val says  good that the family made the decision together, sometimes it is the kindest way, best for the pet but hard for the owners.
Comments to

The weeks flash past

 Thursday this week will be the Folk ' n' Jazz at Verfeil. Is there anyone coming from St. Antonin way who could pick up Doreen, Gavin and zimmer frame Eric ( made that up to catch your attention) Please contact me if there is a chance you can do this.

The monthly book swap will be at St. Antonin at the Gazpacho 10.30am  on Monday 2nd of  June and Chris Robinson will be delivering our British Corner Shop orders as well as looking after the DVD's for the swap. Keep up the good work Chris.

Another reminder to book your tickets for " the Picnic in the Park" and an evening of Dixieland Jazz with Martin's Jazz Band from Toulouse. Here at Mas del Sol, with the famed " coucher du soleil" / sunsets on  Wednesday July 23rd. arriving at 7pm. Tickets are 15 euros each and all profits will go to Via Sahel Enfants D' Afrique.

Pam and Clive Poling are having a house contents sale on Sunday, 1 June at 10am onwards (with tea and coffee) and are selling everything from settees to cooling fans and chest of drawers to squash racquets. If anyone would like a full list of items and directions to their house please email Pam on

Just the news I needed, those two free kittens have found a good home.

Val says I asked Jane to let me know if we managed to get the kittens rehomed, this is the reply this morning.

Hi there,
Yes, Debbie and John have just picked them up this morning.
It was lovely to meet them both and hope to stay in touch.
Thanks Val

 Taglines  works really well.
Love Jane 

And they could not have gone to a better home.
Comments to

I like TAG to have happy stories.

I do not like to be depressed so I am thinking happy thoughts, we visited friends yesterday who are looking after small grandchildren whilst parents are in England. They had been woken at 6 am and would be on the go till 8pm. The two little tots were delightful, the little boy showed us how to jump in the paddling pool. Inevitably falling down and having his third clothes change of the morning. The little girl sang us a song from one of her favourite TV programmes, so charming.  What a great country place we are in for children, who have space to run round and small animals to inspect and learn about. Our future for the world lies in little tots like these.
The grandparents looked exhausted but happy, we all know that feeling.
Comments to

Donkey - le mot juste?

One list in the south east constituency for the Euro elections obtained just 192 votes, thus qualifying it for the "bonnet d'âne" - dunce's cap. I don't think our donkeys would think it quite fair.
comments to

Is France becoming an inward turning nation?

France risks being perceived as an unfriendly country that is turning inward. “It will no longer be seen as a country at the heart of the European project, or one capable of launching new ideas.”
The researcher says it’s not just France’s influence that is at stake, but its credibility. “It will certainly be more difficult to get other countries on board for different projects if France is seen as a fragile, inward-facing nation,”      From France 24
Val says  Just as we are making forward strides with our Mayor in Varen, the country is making backwards steps in welcoming newcomers. In the SW of France there are now 3 FN members in the European Parliament.       Comments to

Damp, and dampened

A damp morning with spirits dampened with the inevitable European election news. Reading French newspapers every morning Malc and I were both fatalistic about the chances of a strong "Yes" vote and a vote for democracy, and sadly we were proved right.
Do not think that this wave of anti Europe feeling will not affect us living in Europe full or part time. The effects will be felt over the months. All we can do is keep speaking our mind and fighting racist and anti semitic views. A strong Europe is important for us all.
José Bove was relected so a bit of good news for me.
Comments to

EU elections

Martin Schulz, the former Socialist president of the European Parliament - said of the FN victory: "It's a bad day for the European Union, when a party with a racist, xenophobic and anti-Semitic programme gets 25% of the vote."
Can't help but agree with him. Farage and Le Pen's parties representing us in Europe! Bad day for socialism and equality.

Sam Jonkers
Comments to

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Murder of the Mayor

The mayor of a small town in northwest France was castrated and murdered overnight Thursday, presumably by a man jealous over an affair he believed the mayor to be having with his wife.

Dominique Leboucher, 55-year-old mayor of the tiny village of Bretteville-le-Rabetin Calvados, Normandy, was attacked by an unidentified man who then committed suicide, his body found not far from the crime scene, a police source said.
The crime sparked horror among the town’s 250 residents.
Yannick Guesnon, one of the mayor's deputies, described the attack as an "an act of madness".
"I do not believe this thing about infidelity at all," he added.
Albert Gibot, a pensioner who has served on the town’s council for 22 years, said the alleged murderer had been angered by the fact that his wife had been attending political meetings in the evenings, after being elected to the town council in recent elections.  News 24    Comments to

Trouble with the neighbours

For 3 years I've done everything possible to make friends with our neighbours. Last Xmas I took home-made patisserie to each of them but alas nothing in return. Of course it all revolves around our naughty dog Bruno. I know, I know but he's a lovable chasseur who wants just 2 things in life: to be with us and to run.That was the reason we bought this house with its large, fenced garden, but Bruno knows no barriers; it's all one big adventure for him. Knowing this we give him plenty of walks, but he got out again while I was bringing in the washing, nosed open the cellar door, raced down the bottom of the garden and leapt the fence in one go. In a flash the neighbour (not the one with the chickens) was there with a giant baton and went to beat poor Bruno repeatedly. For God's sake: this isn't a wild fox; it's a neighbour's pet dog who loves everybody. I can honestly say that if a known neighbour's dog was in our garden, I would take him round to them again. But here? No. I shouted for Bruno to run, run.....he did, climbed the fence with all 4 paws and leapt over to safety again. Phew!  But now, look what the crazy neighbour has done....these signs have sprouted all around our garden, facing us. Does he think Bruno can read? Incroyable.

Taken from Gill Green's blog, Gill writes a Olga Swann in Lost in France, a blog listed in the TAG blog section.
Many readers who live in Varen knew Gill, Leon and their naughty but lovable dog Bruno before they had  moved to Gaillac.
 Has anyone any suggestions to improve matters with the neighbours on both sides? 

Exhibition at Draw International at Caylus

Fairly quiet at the polling station

We went just later than 10.30 am, firstly no problem with parking and no queues.
We voted and then were ask by Michou, the Mayor's adjoint to explain to an English couple who had appeared with their passports, that they were not entitled to have their vote accepted as they had not signed on at the Mairie before Dec. 31st last year. Such a shame that they had not understood that and I promised that next time I would help them understand procedures, but as we know next time is some years in the future!
Comments to

How many dogs and cats are euthanized in France each year?

I can see by googling that 4 million dogs and cats have to be put to sleep in the US every year... 4 million!
I cannot find just searching quickly the numbers in France but it will be a significant number. I was delighted to see the highest score ever of readers basically saying " breed no more cats" the country has enough moggies for everyone who wants one, or even like us, four!
Responsible ownership is the key and like all the animal welfare associations in the country I would make a plea to sterilise or castrate your pet. If you get a dog or cat from a rescue association part of the deal is they are sterilised before leaving their care.
I know the one couple who ticked sympathise on this post do  not agree and in their country situation it is perhaps a different matter but in truth their argument does not win me over. An argument as friends we agree to differ on.
Comments to

Who gets my vote?

 Having gone through the lists that have arrived " chez nous" in the post. I have picked out to vote for José Bové and Catherine Grèze and their team, the party of Ecologie, basically the Green Party.
I have written so many posts about pesticides, deep sea trawling and the like that I realise I want more " green" policies in Europe.
What I have to do now is take a printed piece of paper with these two names on to the polling station. Put it in the provided envelope and then into the box. So no ticking or crossing out of lists on pieces of paper. I wonder if the polling station will be busy as in the local election?
Comments to

A repas at Salvetat des Carts

Val says  I have been asked to put this on TAG but as it is difficult to read I will ask for more information.    Comments to

Busy day with the European elections, Fête des Mères celebrations and lots of things happening.

Walking, running riding around the area, at some point manage to fit in your vote in the European elections. If you live in France, making sure we have representation and to stay in Europe has got to be a priority.
comments to

Saturday, 24 May 2014

La Seye et vous at Verfeil

                              Bonjour à toutes et à tous,
 Dimanche 25 mai à la Seye et vous, menu spécial Fête des mères.
 Menu à 24 euros :
Entrées :   Foie gras poêlé  ou  Gravelax (saumon mariné)

Plats :   Côtelettes d'agneau grillées  ou  truites à l'oseille avec leur accompagnement
Desserts au choix
 Un apéritif sera offert aux mamans.
 Renseignement :  05 63 65 22 18.
Bon appétit !
 Comments to

The cat and the hoopoe

Dear Val and Malc,
The Cat and the Hoopoe

 On our travels walking the dog,  it is always nice to see nature in action and when it is on your doorstep it enables one to easily return and study the habits of the subject.  By observing one can choose when and how to approach taking a picture without disturbing the subject and sometimes the unexpected occurs, which is what happened with the Cat and the Hoopoe.

The story starts by going back a few days when I noticed that a Hoopoe was entering a crack in the side of a stone barn.  By watching over a few days I could see which approach it would take to get to the nest and then where the ideal place would be for the equipment to go, in this case behind a stone wall.  Birds in general have a large circle of fear, so you, and your equipment need to be some distance from them, especially when they are nesting. Fortunately I have a zoom lens, tripod and a remote release for the camera that works really well and allows me to hide several metres away in fact so far away I cannot hear the shutter so I can only hope that a picture has been taken.

Whilst the Hoopoe was off fetching food for its young I set up the camera and tripod and sat waiting for it to reappear.   I was able to get a few pictures of it hanging off the entrance to its nest, there is one of its crest up but in this instance it did not turn sideways so it is not easy to see.  Do you think that wildlife does not always understand the concept of its best side.

Nature is always looking for opportunities, and the following day when I returned there was a feral cat sat in the opening adjacent to the Hoopoe's nest.  

The cat had obviously seen the same activity that I had.  The cat noticed my approach and was not particularly bothered as it had dinner on its mind.  The Hoopoe on the other hand was not at all pleased with the situation as it was potentially the dinner.  
Rather than set up the tripod which would have disturbed the scene, I snapped of a picture of the cat and then the Hoopoe which was sitting on a post beak full of insects.
 I then retraced my steps allowing the battle of wills to continue.

The ending of the story is that the cat, not able to catch the Hoopoe left the ledge and probably went chasing mice or rats instead.  The Hoopoe will, I am sure manage to finish off rearing its young and they might return again next year.

comments to