Monday, 30 June 2014

Crocodiles in cream

Dear Val,
Please could you post the following on 'Tag'.

We are very sorry to announce that Virginia Ironside has been forced to cancel her show on Wednesday 16th July due to an emergency eye operation.  We wish her a speedy recovery and are pleased to confirm that she's keen to reschedule for this autumn - more details on that soon...
However, we are delighted that actor Kevin Moore has kindly agreed to step in at this short notice and bring us his much acclaimed one-man-show, Crocodiles in Cream, about the creator of Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll.
Drawn from diaries, letters, poems and stories, this compelling piece of theatre takes us into the world, half-dream, half-reality of this complex figure: mathematician, logician, photographer, poet and story-teller.

We are sure you will thoroughly enjoy this show which has been performed throughout the UK and around the world, from Athens to New York.

There are just a few tickets still available.
If you wish to book please let us know as soon as possible 

Doors open at 7pm, curtain-up is at 8pm and there will be a short interval.
We thank you for your continued support of FET at Le Colombier and look forward to seeing you very soon! 

Kind regards,
Deirdre Honey FET Secretary

Introducing Monsieur Aubergine

Reuben and Jacob practise their monster vegetables for the Salon du Jardin, well done boys.
Comments to

Big news for artists and handicrafters in the area.

All you artists  and handicraft people who I know are going to display at Le Salon du Jardin d' été will now be able to bring work on the Friday night the 18th from 4 to 6 pm as well as on Sat. morning the 19th from 9.30 till 11.30.
We have had so much interest that without this extra time we could be snowed under.
If for any reason ( gite changeover, etc.) that you cannot make the morning on Sat. you could also bring any produce at this time.

Please contact me, Val if you have display boards for art work that we could use for the show.
Comments to

A story about the Parisot International Arts Festival

A new member to our "equipe" is Debra Optikipi of Parisot and what an asset she is going to be. After the photo shoot we came back to Mas del Sol for a coffee.
Debra has some brilliant ideas on how to display work and what needs to be done before the event. She certainly came up with ideas we had not thought about. Trust a retired headmistress, is what we said when she left.
For five years in Parisot husband Toyin and Debra ran the " International Arts festival" ( it still continues under new management)
They received an email from a school in Japan asking if they could bring children over to participate in the competition. In the event after all was explained, village competition etc.  a Japanese family with their two children did come and participate and had a lovely holiday in to the bargain.
What a great story.
Comments to

How did the photo shoot go Val?

Thanks go to Gareth Brown for a selection of photos of the motley crew who are working so hard on " le Salon du Jardin"  Left to right we have Julia, Val, Jean ( who I always call Jean du Jardin, from les Jardins de Quercy) Marcia, Nicole, Malc, Debra and Chantal.
I asked that we all tried to be a bit provocative in the picture for TAG, but I did not mean Malc to do it. Trouble is he is used to doing as he is told! ( if only)
I have some lovely little stories from the morning but they will have to wait until I have been shopping.
Comments to

Photographer Gareth Brown
Four French, three English and one Dutch and are we out for FUN, 

Should we feel sorry for rich vignerons?

Severe hail storms on Saturday caused between 50% and 90% losses in some prestige Burgundy vineyards, such as Pommard for the second consecutive year. Despite using silver iodide generators to reduce the size of the hail stones, vignerons fear that the grand cru production will be severely hit. This seems to have generated a debate along the lines of "who cares - these rich producers can afford it, they may be insured and their wine is too expensive anyway".
Grand cru Burgundy is (unfortunately) beyond the pocket of most of us, but does that devalue their loss? With 730000 hectares of vines in France a few parcels of grand cru won't go amiss. But not only the vignerons are affected; the grapes are hand picked, bottled, labelled and employ labourers and technicians whose livelihoods also depend on the vigneron getting a good price for a short supply product. And losing a year's work is always discouraging. Or should we just stick to champagne?
comments to

Mas de Monille, has a tourism label for the handicapped

À 40 minutes de Montauban, niché sur les Causses du Quercy, se trouve le domaine du Mas de Monille racheté en 2008 par Benoît Leverrier. Rénovée en 2013 dans le but de favoriser son accès aux personnes à mobilité réduite et ainsi d'obtenir le label tourisme handicap, cette charmante ferme-auberge traditionnelle qui jouit d'un cadre exceptionnel, mais aussi de la proximité de nombre de trésors du patrimoine local, conjugue élevage, commerce et accueil des visiteurs gourmands.

Val says When we first came here we often went to Mas de Monille which was then a sanglier farm.
Bought by Benoît Leverrier in 2008, he no longer has sanglier but still offers meals in his ferme auberge in a country  farm setting.
Comments to

The poor child, that poor Grandma

Imagine how you must feel reversing your car by accident into your tiny grandchild. Killing the child must have been devastating for that grandmother, who was cared for by the paramedics.
We always are concerned about knocking down our friendly hens but a baby!

Un véritable drame est survenu vendredi après-midi, à Saint-Martin-d’Entraigues, dans les Deux-Sèvres. Une enfant de 14 mois est décédée après avoir été renversée accidentellement par la voiture de sa grand-mère, qui faisait une marche-arrière.
La fillette se trouvait dans le jardin de ses grands-parents quand elle a été heurtée par le véhicule familial. La conductrice effectuait une manœuvre et n’avait pas vu l’enfant. A l’arrivée des pompiers de Melle et du Samu de Niort, la petite fille était en arrêt cardio-respiratoire. Sa mort a été constatée peu avant 19 heures.
Très affectée, la grand-mère a été prise en charge par les secours.

Festivals at Marmande and Carcassone abandoned because of storms and rain

Les premiers grands festivals de l'été dans la région ont été perturbés hier soir par l'arrivée des pluies d'orages. La vigilance orange était maintenue sur 32 départements. Les vignes ont souffert en Bourgogne.
Val says  at least at Mas del Sol  when we got heavy rain, we could move into the salon.

14 months old toddler falls in to neighbours pool

A 14 month old toddler was found inanimate in a neighbours pool and was helicoptered to hospital at Toulouse. He was given first aid and is now in a critical state in hospital.
The parents and neighbours are all under investigation by the gendarmes.

Un enfant de 14 mois a été héliporté hier après-midi à l'hôpital de Purpan après être tombé dans une piscine privée à Golfech où il a été retrouvé inanimé. 

Comments to

Sunday, 29 June 2014

The Book swap is not tomorrow

T he book swap is the first Monday in the month. In July it happens to be the 7th.
Comments to

An empathy for cats

Having received mails today  to rehouse one cat and two kittens I contacted Fiona thinking it must be someone working with " Chats de Quercy" I was told the ladies are cat lovers living in St. Antonin who just want to help cats, and these cats are homeless.
Well done ladies.
Comments to


Hello Val
just catching up with comments on Tag and thought I’d better put the gossip to bed and also apologise. I did indeed mean civil and was referring to the service sector and not the general (re)public. My mistake that seems to have taken TAG by storm!
I hope no-one blames me for not missing the odd grumpy restaurateur or stern shop assistant. (After all, politeness is free and usually expected in a working environment, would you not agree?) I was very glad to read all the positive comments about our French compatriots and the region we find ourselves departing from though, so perhaps a little provocation isn’t always a bad thing.
Thanks again to all who sent us farewell wishes and for the recent adverts Val.
L   from Saint- André (overtired and in need of a dictionary…)

Sponsored by Unicor

Thanks to persuasive Marcia Scott " le Salon du Jardin d' été " is being sponsored by Unicor. That takes a bit of pressure off the funding situation.
Today I have been sending out the information for judges and what an interesting panel we will have.
In French our experts are called " jurés"
Seven are French, six are English and one is Dutch and the President of the Show is Jean Donies from Les Jardins de Quercy.
I have also spoken on the phone today to Ross Keightley, the man from Caylus who grows big vegetables. He was very enthuisiastic and hopes next year to be on the team. For this year he will bring some of his ordinary vegetables, his monsters will not be produced till later in the year.

I did not know that at Caylus they have a biggest pumpkin competition and if I am right last year first, second and third prize went to a gardener from Varen, but this is of course in the autumn.

Tomorrow is our photo shoot for the Depeche and we have a new member of the team from Parisot, Debra Okitikpi.  Her skills on display and organising will be a welcome and useful addition.
We also have willing and able volunteers for the night before to help set up  and on the busy morning to take inscriptions. We will have a get together soon ladies,  to run through procedure.

Hope all your vegetables and flowers are doing well, your patchwork just needs the last stitches and the last brush of paint will soon  be on that masterpiece for the show.
So many categories, that there really should be something for everyone.

A rather miserable reader wondered why we needed to do the show. Well do you know, it is called having fun, having something different to do and because we are all working together in something we all believe will benefit  our village, and that is good enough for me.
I am longing to know who will win prizes and who will be the overall Champion of the Show and remembering everyone who enters is a WINNER  just for participating.
Comments to

French people

I would like to agree with A of Najac regarding how well the local inhabitants have reacted to us since we have lived in the area for the past six years. We have been shown nothing but help and kindness since we arrived and adore the area for its beauty and peacefulness.
G of Monturou


I am a very small kitten,needing a loving home.
I was found last week by the main road,lost,alone,small and undernourished ( I think that means that I was starving).
I have a very loud purr and I promise to grow into my ears. I like company.
Andrea and Fiona have said that until someone offers me a loving home, I can happily wait here.
Also,I have been named Iffy. Apparently this is because IF I see anything that moves,I will chase it! Well of course I will,I am a kitten!

Contact Andrea/Fiona 05 63 30 87 04

Love me tender

Mr Presley is an eight year old  softie,who has survived a car crash( with a little help from his friends) just before Christmas,in which he suffered a triple fracture of his pelvis.
Elvis,like his namesake, has dreamy blue eyes and a croony voice. He is a purrfect love-match for any adoring fan who can offer him his own "Gracelands". He would, of course be perfectly happy to find a home, where he can sing solo,with no other pets!
Will you help him with a loving home,he really is a teddy bear!

Phone Andrea/Fiona 05 63 30 87 04
Or leave a message on answer phone.

We are all proud of " the Clenches"

In our village are an amazing couple still producing superb art, David has an exposition coming up soon at the Church of Selgues. David is 90 and Joyce is not too far behind, they recently moved from Verfeil in to a bungalow in Varen.
The couple are going to be judges in the art competition along with Mary Parkes,another incredible person judging in our Salon du jardin ( it is not just vegetables you know!)
I took them a notice down about judging when  I realised I had left the  French version with them, not the English. I phoned to say I would pop down another version but David declined and said " no, we have worked it out" and we will want to show it proudly to our French neighbours who will understand this version and it gives us a chance to promote the event.
Good on you, David and Joyce
Comments to

New novel from a local author

Hello Val,

You kindly offered to post something about my forthcoming novel. It will be published in a month’s time, so here is a first instalment, with publication details to follow when I know them.
 Many thanks for your support, which I greatly appreciate.

Vanessa x

When I started writing fiction four years ago, after a very long gap, I had no idea that this might lead to a published novel! Now, my début novel, ‘The House at Zaronza’, will be published in paperback and e-book formats by Crooked Cat Publishing on 29th July.

The book was loosely inspired by a true story: we stayed in a chambre d’hôtes in Corsica in 2012 and saw some framed love letters hanging on the walls. I asked about them and a fascinating tale emerged. 

The background is early 20th-century Corsica and the Western Front in World War I. I did a lot of research about life in Corsica then and about World War I, especially on the topic of nursing at the Front.

Maria Orsini is the daughter of a bourgeois family in a Corsican village. She and the local schoolmaster carry on a secret romance. But Maria’s parents have other plans for her and she sees her dreams crumble. This is a story about love, betrayal, loss and reconciliation in a strict patriarchal society, whose values are challenged as the world changes. 

Corsica is a savagely beautiful island with a turbulent history – a gift for novelists. I’ve been captivated by it and have tried to convey its magic in the book.

I will be publishing a few extracts from the book over the next few weeks on my blog:  

Watch this space for publication details.

David v Goliath

Perennial story of little man with a good idea versus giant multi-national with other ideas. Norbert Coulon is a small farmer with a passion for heavy horses. As well as his herd of dairy cows he breeds Norman cobs, which he shows and rents out for weddings etc. When he heard that local authorities wanted to restore to Mont St Michel, the world famous off shore monastery, its status as an island, with no motorised traffic allowed across the straits, Norbert thought that horse-drawn caleches would meet the need as well as offering a tourist attraction.
The local council awarded the contract to manage the access to Mont St Michel to Veolia, a services conglomerate. They in turn gave a 10 year contract to M Coulon to supply and look after the horses. But last December M Coulon withdrew all the horses, claiming that Veolia had no understanding of how the animals should be treated. The caleches were too heavy, the attelages too narrow, the drivers no better than "bus drivers" and at least one horse had ended up under the carriage. Veolia claim they have addressed all the issues and all the drivers are fully trained - though a survey by the French society for horses found only 1 of the 23 drivers up to standard. "A 700 kilo mass of muscle can be dangerous if it gets out of control" M Coulon asserts.
So the stand-off continues: the council is suing Veolia for delay in implementing the service - at a penalty of 5000 euros per day - and Veolia is in turn suing M Coulon for breach of contract. The courts have been asked to decide.
M Coulon has sold his cows and invested 700,000 euros into the scheme and faces ruin because in his words he "was mad to trust Veolia - they don't live in the real world". The court is due to deliver its verdict tomorrow (30th June)
comments to

A slow news day

A grey start to the morning, not cold but a drop in temperature since the rain last night.
Very little in the newspapers so if you have a story for TAG please send it.
I am off to walk dogs.
Comments to

The previous post, could it have been inspiration for Les Miserables?

Les Miserables is a French historical novel by Victor Hugo, first published in 1862, that is considered one of the greatest novels of the 19th century. In the English-speaking world, the novel is usually referred to by its original French title (variations include The MiserableThe WretchedThe Miserable OnesThe Poor OnesThe Wretched Poor and The Victims, and The Dispossessed).Beginning in 1815 and culminating in the 1832June Rebellion in Paris, the novel follows the lives and interactions of several characters, focusing on the struggles of ex-convict Jean Valjean and his experience of redemption.

Val says I wondered if the troubles recounted below lead to the writing of Les Miserables but the idea came from the 1832 rebellion.
Comments to

From the Guardian's archives: Paris insurrection 28th of June 1848

Barricades on Royal Street, Paris, during the 1848 revolution
Barricades and tree of freedom, Royal Street, Paris, 1848. Photograph: Roger-Viollet/Rex Features
A sanguinary and obstinate insurrection has outbroken in Paris, in consequence of the determination of the government to clear the ateliers nationaux of the immense numbers of workmen who have there been supported at the expense of the taxpayers. Torrents of blood have flowed.
Paris, Friday Evening. - Across the boulevard was an immense barricade, formed of four or five omnibuses, several carriages, a huge wagon, and paving-stones taken from the streets. A little beyond the Rue St Denis was another, fully as formidable as the first; and still further on a third. The barricades were defended by some hundreds of people in blouses. They had a great number of tricoloured flags stuck upon the top.
Dense columns of troops were to be seen advancing. There was a sudden movement among the conspirators, a few of whom took to their heels. The firing began on the side of the conspirators, who discharged several rounds. The national guard returned the fire with spirit. In something less than half an hour the barricades were taken. I am quite unable to say how many were killed and wounded, but the number must be considerable
Read more in the Guardian 

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Suits you, sir..

The sub-editor having been granted a whole day in Toulouse, unaccompanied, last week decided, it being the first day of the July sales, to look for a new pair of trousers - you would understand if you had seen what he usually wears. So round about 20 shops he went. You forget that clothes shops cater largely for the 17-30 year old market, so a 70 year old chap won't find too much. But, to enlarge on the service from French retailers, the young ladies (and occasional young man) were as helpful as can be. But having braved the multi-designer stands in Galeries Lafayette (would the tanned, shaven headed, gold-bejewelled, tattooed guys wear the same as the sub?) he sought out the more staid outlets - oh M&S thou should'st be here at this hour. Actually there were quite a few suitable such establishments. But nothing caught his eye. Until a rather attractive looking pair of slacks (giveaway word) looked promising. The shop assistant - a close relative of M Humphries - rolled his eyes up. "C'est 42 monsieur - cela ne va pas". The sub pointed out that the size indicated was "32-36", presumably an American size and asked what it meant when he (believe it or not) is a slim(ish) 34 UK? A Gallic shrug from M 'Umphries. "OK, avez-vous cela en 44?" " They are all there," Monsieur H replied, as he continued to mark the shirts down from  120 euros to 90 euros. As there was nothing similar suitable, the sub decided that M.H. could "expletive deleted" his pantalons and went off in search of some fuses at Castorama.
comments to
Malc says: fuses 1 amp and 2 amp were in stock and the repair to our salt electrolyser has been effected.
Val says  don't worry love I will buy you a couple of pairs from Laguepie Market !

Hot temperatures with summer storms

AFTER a warm and stormy winter, a hot and stormy summer is forecast for France, with coastal regions enjoying the best of the weather. Régis Crépet, a seasonal forecast specialist with Météo Consult said that he expects frequent storms in mountainous regions in July, while central and coastal areas should remain dry and sunny.
Temperatures are expected to remain high for most of August, though the southwest of the country, in particular, can expect to witness violent thunderstorms. 
Across the summer, temperatures could be as much as 2C above average, and any rainfall is likely to be very heavy.   Taken from the Connection.

Val says   summer storms, don't you and all your pets just hate them!
Comments to

Guide de l'été culturel en Tarn et Garonne

Worth picking up this guide from the tourist board, it covers Music, danse, theatre, spectacles and expositions for July, August and September published by the Counseil General... and guess what? Picnic in the Park  at Mas del Sol with Dixieland jazz on Wed 23rd of July is in it.
Comments to


Good afternoon Val

Not much fun when it's pitch dark and you are in the woods trying to find two llamas - really!!
Thank you to the person who "spread the word!"

K of the Bosc - Llama tracker

Val says  Sorry K but did I smile to be able to have a runaway llama tale, rather than a donkey one. I agree though it is no fun at all.
 My lips remain sealed on the name  of  the undercover reporter.
Comments to

I am British !

Hi Val
Sorry, I have to say it. I am British not a Brit. How I hate that term of reference. I would rather be called Anglo Saxon which is the name given to us by some Eastern European friends we have here.

Val says Sorry, it should have read, there are a lot of Anglo Saxons I would stay clear off.
Comments to

Warm, welcoming and polite, that's the French.

 Hi Val
Interesting how we experience this part of France differently. I have found the people here warm, welcoming, direct yet polite and definitly very helpful. I admire their way of living, their appreciation of smaller things in life like the long lunch break and shared meals, the way they deal with ups and downs,.'c'est la vie'. But then again, I didn't come to France just for the climate, the food and the wine. I feel grateful that I am allowed to live here and I try to show my respect for the french by 
adapting a bit to their way of life. Why on earth would they have to adapt to us, or worse, be servile?

A of Najac

Val says -  A -  talks sense, impossible to generalise though,as all our experiences with the French have not been good, I am thinking of that lousy  french joiner. On the other hand we have met and made friends with many lovely French people. There are a lot of Brits one steers clear of and a lot we love.
 People are people, some good and friendly, some not friendly or good.
As I said earlier I think the " servile "word in Leila's post should have been "civil."
Comments to

Anyone want a freebie?

Hi Val,

We've got a big old telly to give away. Anyone interested? Works perfectly,

but surplus to our requirements.

Best wishes


Escaping donkeys, ten a penny

We had a phone call from the village last night to say " a donkey with a red  licol/ head collar was trotting down the main street, thankfully not one of ours.
A little bird tells us that a  local couple who keep llamas had quite a job recovering  two of theirs when one escaped and the other jumped the fence to go with it.  Such fun all these animals.
Comments to

Do we have renters or kestrels?

Our kestrel pair have aborted  nesting again, second time this year. I think we have to accept if we have renters we cannot also have kestrels. Sadly we need the money!
Comments to

Is it civility or servility?

I do not think anyone wants the French to be servile, but even the government want restauranteurs, taxi drivers, waiters, workmen etc to be more civil and I think that is where the discussion has gone wrong.
Comments to

Protecting bookshops, penalising hotels..

Two laws proposed or passed by the French Assembly this week seem to be penalising consumers. To try and protect independent bookshops, mighty Amazon, FNAC et al will be prevented from offering free delivery for discounted books. It seems that in 2013 on-line sales amounted to 13% of sales. Although it has risen from 3% ten years ago is it enough of a threat to your local librairie to warrant such a ban? Consumers are already "protected" from discount activity by a legally imposed retail price, from which only 5% may be deducted.
Hotels in Paris, par contre are to be forced to increase the taxe de sejour from 1.50 euros per night to 5 euros (and up to 8 euros for luxury establishments). Hoteliers think this will damage their business and profits - and the 150 million euros raised used to improve the capital's public transport simply penalises the consumer.
comments to

La Seye et vous at Verfeil sur Seye gives us some closing dates

Bonjour à tous et à toutes,
 Un petit mot pour vous informer que La Seye et vous sera fermé du Mercredi 2 juillet au vendredi 4 juillet inclu.
Nous serons ouverts  samedi 5 juillet et dimanche 6 juillet pour la fête du village.
Nous serons à nouveau fermé lundi 7 juillet et mardi 8 juillet.
Réouverture pour tout l'été le jeudi 10 juillet à 9h.
Passez un bel été.

Are you following this story?

    The son-in-law of a murdered heiress Helene Pastor, one of the richest people in Monaco, has admitted to being involved in the brazen daytime attack in which she was killed. Suspicious bank transactions allegedly drew investigations' attention to the suspect.
    The son-in-law of the 77-year-old heiress of one of Monaco's richest families has admitted to involvement in her murder last month, Marseille prosecutor Brice Robin told AFP on Friday.
    Wojciech Janowski, a 64-year-old who is also Poland's honorary consul in Monaco, "recognised his involvement" in the killing of Helene Pastor while in detention this week, Robin said.
    Janowski has been in custody since Monday, when he was arrested along with 22 others by police investigating the shooting of Pastor multiple times as she was leaving a hospital in the French Riviera city of Nice on May 6.
    Her driver, Mohammed Darwich, 64, also died from injuries sustained in the attack.
    Janowski's 53-year-old partner Sylvia, Pastor's eldest daughter, was also detained for questioning but released on Thursday without charge.
    Prosecutors had until the end of the day Friday to charge those detained or release them.
    Robin said earlier that police had identified two suspects alleged to have been hitmen hired to kill Pastor.
    The two men -- a 31-year-old and a 24-year-old from Marseille's rough northern districts -- had been identified as being "present at the location of the killing".
    They were identified thanks to surveillance cameras, mobile telephone records and traces of DNA found in a Nice hotel where they stayed on the day of the killing. 
    Val says this story is headlining all the French and in some English newspapers. I took this snippet from the Local but the story is everywhere.

    Free bike for a 8 to 9 year old

    FREE: Child’s bike for 8/9 yr old, pink scooter, blue kids deckchair (2-6yrs).

    Filmed in St. Antonin Noble Val

    Friday, 27 June 2014

    Two swipes in this post I think

    Hi Val
     Just think how lucky you are to live near a squatter whose only crime that we know of for sure is that he is untidy. Imagine if you lived near someone who doesn't think "The French" in their own Republic, fought for in the bloody streets, have a servile enough culture.

    Val replies  presumably Charles thinks nearly killing a couple and their dog in a terrible write off car accident and then running off from the scene is acceptable, I do not, and would want the perpetrator pursued  and brought to justice, and I will do my bit in helping this happen.

    Leila says
    Just read your latest post on Tag, presuming it was meant as a dig at me, perhaps Charles doesn’t realise that the majority of the friends we’ll dearly miss are French! Plus we’re keeping our house hence we have a chance to come back one day.
    Comments to

    A squatter who does no harm

    Every summer we have a practically toothless youngish Dutchman who spends his summer squatting in the nearby woods. He has made a terrible mess of the place, never seeming to take away any rubbish of any sort, including old broken down cars which litter the field nearby.
    I have nothing against a  squatter who keeps himself to himself and  has a lovely summer in a tumbled down house never used, but wish he would leave it tidy.
    Anti social  and dangerous behaviour though is a different " kettle of fish". The accident along the road a couple of mornings ago is a worrying occurrence. Imagine if  the people in the other car had been killed, imagine if it was your grandchildren in that car, - unimaginable; so something now has to be done.
    The car is still bashed up, wheels off at the side of the road and is waiting for the gendarmes to catch the owner.

    Comments to

    Bombes 2 Bal

    The exact time for Bomb 2 Bal performing at Laguepie is 21h on Friday 11th of July, but that is French time.
    Comments to

    Another house sold in Varen by Martine Ravily

    They say houses are not selling but just in the last few days we have heard of two houses AG3 immobilier have sold in Varen, and we know of another where an offer has been made.
    One house which has sold is right next to Unicor, in fact just off their courtyard. They are having a vide maison 4 and 5 th of July and they want everything in the house to go. I have not got a tel. number but find Unicor and you cannot miss the house.
    Comments to

    folk 'n jazz - come sun. come rain , come storm - we have a good time anyway

    Guest singer Tony Smith
    We always say every folk'n'jazz is different and last night's certainly was! We arrived to the ominous sound of rumblings around the hills but the audience were soon settled cosily in Val and Malcolm's pretty barn as Linda introduced the singers and  we were soon enjoying the music. Our guest singer from Montauban folk club was a welcome addition to the line up  and performed his own songs with added percussion in the form of thunder claps and barking dogs.

    It started to rain.
    " It won't last long" we said.
    We were nice and dry in the barn (well I was at the back).
    But then the wind changed and everyone at the front started making such a fuss.
    As we decamped into the house those of us with dry feet realised why as we paddled to the doorway. Anyway , thanks to Val and Malcolm's fantastic hospitality we were soon settled inside the house so the storm could do its worst. It was at this point Val must have been thankful the audience wasn't bigger!

    The 20mm downpour soon flooded the courtyard

    After the unscheduled break in proceedings we resumed the music, Linda womanfully adjusting the programme. We had songs from Brian, John, Linda and Trevor individually and collectively, Roger and Eileen, and more from Tony. There were some French tunes and a song which the French in the audience were able to join in with.
    Audience happily in the dry indoors
    We all had a great evening - except perhaps poor Val & Malc who near the end of the evening disappeared to chase donkeys - but that's another story which you already know.
    As we left there was much talk of how well everyone had done in trying circumstances, the French in the audience had enjoyed themselves despite the language barriers ( the language of music works for all), and others were thinking of a trip to the Montauban folk club ( first Sunday of each month) to hear more from Tony. Thank you again to Val and Malcolm from everyone who was not able to say goodbye properly last night.So another good night for folk'n'jazz, for me that means I get to listen to a different set of tunes and songs as Trevor starts to practice for next month ! Next month - last Thursday of the month 31st July ( and yes I have checked the date) - is at La Vigerie at St Vincent de Varen - a fabulous outdoor venue with plenty of indoor space if the weather decides to play up rough. The evening will have a special theme commemorating the outbreak of the first world war. More on that later but put the date in your diaires anyway.
    Sue Carter
    Comments to

    Spanish art at Castres

    A bequest of 3 Goya paintings 100 years ago lead to the foundation of the Musee Goya at Castres in the south Tarn. Paintings and other Spanish works were loaned permanently by the Louvre and gradually the Musee has built up the biggest collection of Spanish works of art in France. This summer the Musee is presenting a collection of works by Salvador Dali designed to be illustrations for "livres d'artiste". From 27th June - 26th October. The Musee is housed in a former episcopal palace designed by Mansart, one of the architects of Versailles. Sounds like a good day out to Castres   link to:    Musee Goya
    comments to

    Up at day break, to survey the scene

    The donkeys were still in the clotured area and I gave them breakfast and went to walk the fences. Impossible to see where they escaped from but what is evident is all the batteries need renewing.
     The grange is dry now and fortunately all  the chairs are dry.
    The evening was to celebrate two years of Folk'n'Jazz and as I recall we had a severe storm the first night as well. When the rain falls so viciously for half an hour as it did there is really nothing to do ... but seek shelter.
    Malc will go and buy batteries and I will start the  cleaning and tidying up.
    Di Tornai asked last night the best place to buy peanuts for the birds, we get ours from Unicor, but only feed in the winter. Any other ideas?
    Comments to

    Thursday, 26 June 2014

    Long time since I have had a night like that!

    The grange looked great 50 chairs all with cushions waiting for our guests for folk'n'jazz.
    Everyone arrived and I was delighted to see  5 French ladies from the village and 4 young French people. Nowhere near a full house when the storm hit, we all stayed dry... except our feet. The courtyard filled up as the storm raged and "il pleuvait en cordes" running like a river everywhere.
    In the end we decided to decamp into the house and continued the evening of song in the salon.
     The nightmare continued for us when our French neighbour Norbert appeared at the salon window to say "les anes sont sortis"
    My heart sank,  as I ran out into the wet fields to catch naughty donkeys. The fact the two escaped ones came straight away made it easier, but we then had to " cloture/ fence" a small area to keep them in. Tomorrow we will have to see where they escaped from.
    Pointless me discussing the evening's entertainment, by the time the donkeys were sorted all the guests had left.
    I even forgot to mention the dogs had to be put in the car to stop them barking, and cats who wanted to be in the house " just too wet outside" dashed around everywhere.
    Come on Sue Carter give your song report, it has to be better!
    Comments to

    End of an era for Leila / this family will be missed

    Hello Val and Malcolm,
    The time has almost come for us to leave this beautiful part of France for greener fields and certainly some rain!  We will be moving back to the UK in just a few weeks. We hope to return at some point, so are renting out our house here which leaves us with a few items for sale. (Please add the list to your ‘For sale’ section Val).
    After living here for 11 years we have gathered quite a lot of stuff and memories (Our daughter Ellie was born in Villefranche). We will miss many things but are very much looking forward to: regular employment, seeing our families more, meeting old friends, friendly bustling pubs, longer opening hours and the general happy & helpful servility culture that is often lacking in South-west France.  However we will miss greatly, the natural beauty here, our amazing view, the wonderful weather, piece & quiet, good food & wine and all the friends we’ve made over the years….and cheese…and wine… wine, better take some with us!
    Our main e-mail  (lecombal) has been blocked, so anyone who wishes to contact us please use my work e-mail ( Thank you. My MCL Design advert will expire soon but I may continue to work from the UK once we’ve settled in. I’ll let you know.
    We wish you all a great summer and a great Salon du jardin d'été & Picnic in the park!
    Leila, Graham and Ellie McLelland X

    HOUSE CLEARANCE. Please contact us ASAP if you want to view /purchase items.
    King-size Metal Bed Frame (photo attached) IKEA modern size 1.6x2m, no mattress: 90€
    Other items - contact me for photos:

    -Oak shelf with brass hooks, 83 wide x13cm deep 8€
    -Huge mirror with blue-grey frame, 104 x 133cm 30€
    -2 single mattresses, 1 new (foam), 1 sprung sizes 90x190cm 30€ each
    -Chest of 4 drawers white melamine with brass handles, size 86Hx62Wx 41D  5€
    -Bedside table, brown wood, size 70/86Hx 46Wx30D  15€
    -Futon sofa-bed, size of bed 1.40 x 2m 10€
    -Small child’s wardrobe, IKEA pink with hanging rail, size 160Hx50Wx50D 20€
    -60’s style white plastic & chrome bar stool 5€
    -Bridesmaid’s dress for 4yr old girl. Ivory, floaty with bead detail. 15€
    -4 Wooden CD racks 5€ for 4.
    -Large fire-irons ‘Ancienne-très rustique’ 20€
    -Assorted framed pictures

    The storm has passed over.

    Tonight is Folk'n'Jazz night at Mas del Sol and although we have chairs arranged in the grange, the storm has passed and we are looking forward to a fine evening.
    There has been lots of confusion about dates and we have had lots of phone calls. The evening has been in the Maire's bulletin, admittedly giving the wrong date, but with lots of posters out with the right date and phone calls confirming from the French, we are hoping for a strong French presence.

    Will he , won't he come tonight, not Father Christmas,  the Mayor!

    Whatever,  we are expecting and will welcome French people from the village.
    Comments to

    Book swap on the 7th

    July's book swap at the Gazpacho will be on the Monday 7th , as always starting at 10.30am
    I do have a request for this one. If I as always separate the books into 2 lots at the end of the swap, one to stay and one to go, could someone take them away and house them for the month.
    Because of the Picnic in the Park we will need the space in the dependance.
    Contact me Val  if you can do this just for the month of July
    VAL says thanks to Celia and Bregtje who will be able to look after the books between them.
    Comments to

    "little Mrs fix it"

    Malc has taken to calling me that name, there are ones I would prefer but what's in a name ?
    Yesterday the lady in the Post office in Varen was practically jumpimg over the counter to kiss me and thank me for fixing for her cat to be looked after whilst she was on holiday.
    I am just glad that we can now offer the TAG service to our French compatriots.

    Malc says  I went in to the PO today and got the same reception, the postmistress was amazed at the number of English people who had offered to help. She thought we must all be a nation of cat lovers where in truth we like cats, dogs, babies and people, not necessarily in that order.
    Comments to

    What you could do with a couple of melons and a marrow.

    Our photo shoot has been arranged for the photo we want for the Depeche, Monday morning on the steps of the Mairie, under the French flag.
    A  mixed nationality group who are organising the Salon du jardin are going to be photographed courtesy of a local photographer ( and all he gets for it is the Civic pride, thanks "G")
    There was some suggestion that a calendar may follow,  and I wondered if to build up to it, should we perhaps be photographed with melons and marrows ?
    Comments to

    A Franco British exercise over the Camp of Caylus yesterday called " Tears of the sun"

    Toute la journée d'hier des opérations aéroportées se sont déroulées sur le camp./Photo DDM, Joan Péric
    Toute la journée d'hier des opérations aéroportées se sont déroulées sur le camp./Photo DDM, Joan Péric

    1,800 soldiers took part in this exercise yesterday. We have seen lots of military planes flying over on their way to Caylus.
    Beaucoup d'effervescence sur les milliers d'hectares (5 500) du camp militaire de Caylus qui servent de décor depuis hier matin à la deuxième édition des manœuvres franco-britanique baptisée «Tears of the Sun 2». Les 1 800 hommes sur site appartiennent à la 11e brigade parachutiste (BP) et sa brigade binôme britannique, la 16 th Air Assault Brigade (AAB). Tears of the Sun 2 s'inscrit dans le cadre d'une séquence annuelle d'exercices binationaux de l'Interim Combined Joint Expeditionnary Force (I-CJEF). Elle vise à mettre sur pied à partir des deux brigades aéroportées aptes à l'intervention d'urgence, une force d'intervention rapide au sein de laquelle chaque nation fournit un bataillon d'infanterie aéroportée ainsi que des éléments d'appui et de soutien. Tout a donc débuté par de spectaculaires opérations d'héliportage.   From the Depeche.

    Mercy killing, Dr acquitted

    Nicolas Bonnemaison, a French doctor who ended the lives of seven terminally ill patients, was acquitted of all charges against him on Wednesday after a long, emotionally charged trial that has revived the divisive debate over euthanasia in France.

    The courtroom in Pau, a city in southwestern France, erupted in thunderous applause after the judge read his ruling in the case. Bonnemaison smiled while holding his lawyer’s hand.
    Benoît Ducos-Ader, the defendant’s lawyer, hailed the decision as “enormous”, adding that he hoped it would contribute to the national debate over euthanasia.
    Bonnemaison, a former emergency room doctor, was accused of "poisoning particularly vulnerable people" – five women and two men who died between March 2010 and July 2011 – soon after being admitted to a hospital in the southwestern city of Bayonne where he worked.     News 24
    Val says if you have followed this story you will feel relieved that this compassionate man has been acquitted. Read more about the story and get the facts before making judgements.

    Wednesday, 25 June 2014

    A run in with the law

    I  do sometimes wonder if it is me.
    Today coming back from Laguepie, there had been a road accident on one of our little crossroads, funnily enough just about where our illegal sign is. Both cars were write offs but looked bashed up enough without the accident.
    The gendarmes and the pompiers were there when I arrived. The cars, one in a ditch and another at the side of the road. Neither was blocking the road I would take, but the pompiers' van, which was badly parked, was. I waited about 5 mins as everyone was just standing about waiting for a recovery lorry and then a pompier came up and told me to turn around and go back by Varen. Perhaps a quarter of an hour run instead of two minutes to home, when all he needed to do was move his van one metre further in.
    I got out and surveyed the scene and politely suggested if they slightly moved their van I could be away, no trouble. The gendarmes came over and so the pompier humpfed and moved his van.
    What an absolute cheek. I said to Malc "was it because I was English?" Malc thought  French people would not dare ask anyone to move and would have just agreed; well more fool them.
    I met the renters when I got home and they said the gendarmes had been here  looking for me! yikes!
    but they thought they were asking as to whom the really bashed up car belonged and I might have known.
    Which I probably do; it may be the Dutch  squatter who lives in the woods, comes every summer for his holls
    One driver  apparently ran off from the scene of the accident; he may have no tax or insurance, an unroadworthy car and possibly under the influence of some mind altering drug.
    Comments to

    Home delivery, just like well, being back at home.

    Hi Val
    We've just had our first home delivery from Intermarche in Caussade - I think most of their stores now offer this. Easy site to use, you choose a 2-hour delivery slot and pay by cheque or card on delivery.

    Comments to

    Anyone driving to England?

    Hi Val, would you mind putting this message on TAG for me.

    I am booked on a flight to England on Friday and in case it gets
    cancelled I wondered if anyone was driving to England with space for a
    passenger and luggage. I need to get to Southern England so if anyone
    could drop me at a train station en route I would be very grateful.
    I can be contacted on or 05 63 31 13 24
    Thank you
    Anne Grose
    Comments to

    How do you sell a story?

    The animatrice in Varen has asked us to prepare a piece for the Depeche on the Salon du Jardin, d'été.
    How do we make it interesting to a French readership ? This show/ salon is more than just a garden show it is a exercise in all nationalities getting on together . With the Mayors new list there is a new motivation  on integration spearheaded by Dutch resident Marcia Scott and this is where the story should start.
     A group knowing how important our gardens and potagers are to us all have banded together and  are hoping we can share this passion between us all.
    It will only work if  we all participate in a spirit of " bonhomie"
     I think this is the angle we will spin on the story, including a good photo of the team.
    I am spending hours / days on it to make sure it works and I am confident it will.
    Comments to

    The Sales start today

    The 2014 summer sales start in France on Wednesday 25 June 2013 for five weeks. They end on Tuesday 29 July 2013
    Happy shopping
    Comments to

    No alliance, no 20 million given in funding

    FRANCE’S far-right Front National has failed to form a voting bloc in the European Parliament, spoiling its chances of leading an anti-EU alliance.

    Marine Le Pen’s party had hoped to form an alliance with Geert Wilders’ Dutch Freedom Party (PVV) and similar anti-EU parties from other nations, but the deadline passed last night.

    Missing the deadline also denied the FN access to an additional €20 million in funding, as well as more staff and speaking time in the debating chamber.  Taken from the Connexion.

    Val says  " be grateful for small mercies"
    Comments to

    Airport strikes in France cause chaos

    Strike latest: 
    • Ryanair and Easyjet cancel scores of flights to and from France and Spain
    • Flights flying over French airspace also affected
    • Ryanair say situation is expected to get worse on Wednesday with 250 flights cancelled
    • Air France says flights into and out of airports in southern France badly hit
    Airlines were forced to cancel dozens of flights to and from Paris's main airports and southern France Tuesday as air traffic controllers kicked off a six-day strike to outrage.
    The work stoppage comes at the height of the tourist season in a nation that attracts more foreign visitors than any other country, and follows a rail protest that affected services abroad and domestically and is still continuing in some areas.  From the Local

    Tuesday, 24 June 2014

    A dream for sale and yes it could be a reality

    If you or friends are looking for a property to buy that would also give you an income, you could not do better than looking at this dream property.  You do not want neighbours, you want to live in a beautiful protected valley with blue butterflies. A house to live in and one to rent.
    If we did not live at  Mas del Sol I would want to live at Moulin Dreuilhet.
    Although isolated it is still only a little more than 6 mins to Verfeil sur Seye or Varen.
    The two stone built houses are well equipped and just adorable, a real "paradis" and it could be yours.
    Check out the link and enjoy looking at the beautiful place and ... dream.
     But it could be a reality.

    Comments to

    Exposition at the Abbaye de Beaulieu

    Glynis and Emma pop up again

    Glynis and Emma have put a date in the diary for the first of their curry nights for 2014. It's Saturday 12th July - same format as before which includes apero, starter, banquet style range of main courses and home made dessert, wine, coffee and lassi. All for 29€ per person.  It will be held in Glynis’s spectacular barn in Septfonds.  
    We can accommodate most table configurations. You can book for a group, for two or take a pot luck table. Contact Glynis or Emma for more details and to book a table:


    Curry à la campagne 
    Glass of chilled melon lassibombay mix, spicy popadumshomemade chutney,radish and pineapple raita
    Mixed vegetable pakorastamarind and carrot chaat, green salad with Madras-style dressing
    Slow cooked creamy lamb curry with aubergine
    Fragrant chicken masala
    Hot and spicy courgette, okra and fresh tomato bhaaji
    Tarka dahl
    Pillau rice & flat breads
    Selection of home-made ices with cardamom and rose water macaroons
    Coffee and tea with Russian Roulette home-made chocolate truffles

    Miss Parisot does it again!

    Hi Val,

    TAGlines did it again; Felix is back!! Kevin and Mimi found him at the end of the road, recognised him as my missing kitten and brought him back! Now it is always nice to see those two, but when they're carrying the kitten you thought dead, you just want to hug them!! :-) Let's hope the other mssing cat will be found soon too,.
    Val says  Kevin Scragg at the moment holds the Miss Parisot title, the Raft champions of Parisot, Varenly Regatta champion and now he  holds  the title  St  Francis  of  Cambou.
     Not forgetting Mimi Scragg who once found our dogs on the road and manhandled them into her jeep to bring home, and now finding Anke's little kitten ( I thought Anke had no chance of seeing the little mite again )
    Well done everyone.
    Comments to

    Do you have mornings when everything works?

    I am more used to going out shopping, at least a half hours drive, to discover that everything I want is out of stock or not available.
    This morning was a dream, I was in Villefranche at 9.20. HyperU had everything I wanted including for the Salon du Jardin, paper rolls of white paper to make tablecloths, paper plates, do you think 150 will be enough? and plastic spoons for tasting the confiture / jams.
    I was back home with the car filled up with petrol at 10.45am. That's the way to shop.
    Comments to

    Helpful advice on funerals

    Dear Val

    I was interested to see the article on Funerals for the Living Family - ie those left behind and mourning their lost loved ones. (Tuesday 10 June 2014)
    Perhaps your readers would be interested to know that the Anglican Chaplaincy of Midi-Pyrenees and Aude is always interested to hear from bereaved families and to help them in these often difficult and time-constrained circumstances, particularly when it comes to dealing with Pompes Funebres here in France. Although they provide an excellent service they are a little different to the family-run businesses we may have experience with in the UK? Are you aware that the time restriction can be extended beyond the usual 3 days if family and friends want to come from the UK or further afield? Cremation in a predominantly Catholic country is also relatively new on the scene but becoming more popular.
    As Clergy and Lay Readers of the Church of England we are used to being pastorally sensitive and caring for anyone who might ask for our help at these times. We work with the close family listening to their needs and using the funeral service outline we can usually be flexible in our approach with most requests. 
    Do visit our website for further information or email and ask for someone to come and discuss this important topic with you at no charge! None of us is getting any younger and someday we all have to face the fact that we will die. Isnt it better that we should be prepared for that event and considerate for those we will leave behind? In all the hundreds of funerals I have taken over the years it has always been helpful for the bereaved family when they have had some idea of the wishes of that person they have lost. Funerals are a time to celebrate the life and achievements of those we have loved but see no longer.

    With every blessing,
    Yours Sincerely, 
    Andrew R Hawken
    Chaplain Midi-Pyrenees & Aude
    and Area Dean for France (South)

    Val says  that is a really helpful letter Andrew, to a generally ageing readership. Comforting to think someone knowledgeable is there for us all and also helpful to know we can extend the time so family around the world could come for the final important ceremony of a loved one's passing.
    thank you