Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Teach yourself Spanish / GONE

Dear Val
Teach yourself Spanish boxed cassettes with booklets as photo attached for sale, nil cost.
Pick up from Le Moulinal, Frausseilles.


Can I have one as a pet ?

This photo of Neville's is one I love, look at the reflection in the water, taking a good photograph, well it is an art form.
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We love Laguepie

I  think Gareth Brown should take this photo into the Marie at Laguepie and suggest it becomes " The Face of Laguepie" on all their publicity leaflets. What do you think?
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Aw! gawd you have to love ' em, the French

Christmas lights are up in Varen on the 30th of September, can you believe it!

I  have spent a lovely couple of hours chatting to French people in the village who I have been trying to persuade to come to "Café and conversation chez nous"  The most fearfully asked question " will the conversation be in English?"
One lady said but I am too old to learn English, bless her, I know the feeling about French.
Today I had to try not to smile as  a French  neighbour said " but it is in the morning" French people do not socialise in the morning, they have housework to do or the meal to prepare, unlike you English who socialize at any time" So I said would she be interested to come if we arranged it in the afternoon? "No, no impossible one needs a siesta. I could come for an apero, now that is when we  french socialize"
This lady did though mark the date in her diary, so who knows if she will appear.
Another couple who we have known and seen roundabout for 12 years were so delighted to be asked to Mas del Sol and they will be here without fail and I left them at the front door having been squeezed to death with cuddles.
One lady made me feel a bit sad as she said " you have really"  bouged " in the village this year and it has been so good. She said all her friends thought the Salon du Jardin had been excellent and she was looking forward to next year.
So what made me sad? Well I " bouge" every year with the English but this year have made sure I "bouged" to include the French.
It has taken me 13 years. Malc says better late than never.
"Bouged" is a franglais word for " got about a bit"
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This is a day at Sivens

The work to build the dam started again after a weeks reprise and the protesters were there as were the gendarmes. This is not a scene from Hong Kong but at Lisle sur Tarn at Sivens.
Do peaceful protests elicit tear gas nowadays ? seems like it.

Whatever the rights or wrongs of the project it is the young who mount these protests to save the planet or country bio diversities  and it must take a bit of courage and a belief.
In the end it will be the young who save the planet for their children and grandchildren.
The best I can do is put my points about poisons and pesticides, try to save bees and the countryside as we know it ( and enjoy it before it all disappears)
I appreciate you may have a totally different view, views expressed are my own.
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Fatal accident on the road between Montricoux and Caussade yesterday

The roads were slippery with the rain and it is thought that is what precipitated the accident yesterday when a car ran into the school bus. The driver of the Renault 19 was killed.
That road from Montricoux to Caussade is quite a winding one and traffic tends to move at speed along roads that sometimes are just not suitable for speed. A sad event in our area.
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Fancy a game of belote or scrabble

In the bar in Varen Wednesday afternoon you will find a small group of villagers playing scrabble and a card game belote.
When we were told about this last night I said but that cannot include women and I was strictly right... but there is one brave French lady who goes, gosh she deserves a medal.
If you fancy playing a French card game or scrabble in French why not go along.
Also last night Marcia Scott and I were looking at the old Mairie to see if it could be made into useful community space. It has a very dull but nicely proportioned main room but what it lacks is a kitchen, essential for coffee mornings or meetings and we could not see a toilet. There was a locked back room so I think we need to look further into this building with thinking caps on.
Have any readers used this old Mairie? I recall at one time a fund raising effort for a defibrillator happening there which was effectively run by an English and Dutch group.
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An agricultural show at Montauban this weekend

As well as the usual sheep and cows etc.  there will be 150 breeds of  horses.  There will also be stalls selling local products. If you are a country person this might be just your " tasse de thé"

A noter sur l'agenda

Vendredi 3 octobre : (3 euros, gratuit pour les moins de 12 ans) : Expositions et animations diverses, Journée des écoles, Gratuité pour les groupes d'élèves accompagnés
Samedi 4 octobre : (4 euros, gratuit pour les moins de 12 ans) Visite officielle à 9 h 30 Entrée Saint-Théodard, Animations diverses, Concours départemental des chevaux lourds et des Prim Holstein, rassemblement de meutes et autres chiens de chasse. Trompes de chasse. De 9h à 12 h 30 : France Bleu à la ferme. Émission radio en direct.
Dimanche 5 octobre : (4 euros, gratuit pour les moins de 12 ans) Matin : Messe de Saint-Hubert à 10h. Après-midi : Remise des récompenses aux meutes avec les trompes de chasse. Remise des prix à 15h. Animations diverses. Bandas “les grapp del negret; le groupe Brésilien “Piment show”.

Rebecca Allen is offering 25% off to TAG readers

Prices via WEBSITE 
 Rebecca Allen
 Holistic VTCT Practitioner
 Email  rebeccajallen@icloud.com 
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Energy prices to rise

From 1st October GDF Suez will increase gas prices by 3.9% and will review prices each month rather than annually. EDF will follow with a 2% electricity price rise at some time during the autumn.
Both these markets are strictly regulated by government set tariffs but are theoretically open to competition from other suppliers. But 7 years after the market was opened up, only 9% of consumers have switched from  EDF with more like 25% moving from GDF. Perhaps we should be grateful not to be pestered by callers offering to switch our supplier to someone cheaper every few weeks as in the UK - but perhaps we should think about saving money or just keeping warm at a lower price. You pays your money etc.
Still on the subject of gas, Mme Royal, the Minister for Energy and Environment, confirmed her opposition to exploring for shale gas (gaz de schiste) in France, preferring to promote energy saving and renewables unless an alternative to "fracking" could be found. Last week Nicholas Sarkozy said it was senseless to deprive the French economy of a source of home produced gas when the supply could be threatened at any time.
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Those poor darlings need me

My poor little "16 legs" are braying for me. Well I like to think it is for me but actually they want their buckets. It was raining this morning so I thought as they were still " snug in their beds" I would leave it till it stopped.
Now it has stopped and four donkeys braying pitifully, tells me I must go.
Over to you "Sub" with a post or two.
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You know minipelles you can hire?

Could you drive a minipelle?  do you think you could drive a minipelle but have you the knowledge or the skills?
Yesterday a former Mayor of   Tirent-Pontéjac (32) was helping his farmer son with a job, the son was out on his tractor and the Dad was helping with the minipelle.
Later the Dad was found in the hangar dead crushed still in the cab of the digger, crushed against the barn walls.
So easy to have a go but think twice, pay someone with the skills it could save your life.
Sounds like an advert for Kevin Scragg.
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What a mistake to make, Auchan

The supermarket Auchan published their catalogue with things for sale. It included a child's model AK47 rifle covered in Islamic symbols!
They have now taken it off sale and apologised, but really what were they thinking of? Who orders and who proof reads these brochures?
Left to me guns like this would not be sold for children with or without symbols.
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Montpellier had 5 months of rain last night

Our sympathies go out to the Languedoc region who last night received a deluge of rain, 5 months worth in one night. How can street drains cope with that? Well of course they cannot and rivers of mud were sent swirling through the streets. Traffic, trains, cars, planes were all held up as traffic everywhere was halted. The degats and cleaning it all up begins now and 6,000 people who had to leave their homes for safety will be going back to start the sometimes months long work of cleaning and drying out. That region has had a tough time in the last few weeks.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Thank you for telling me about that Val, said tongue in cheek!

Marcia Scott's words as we backed out of the old Mairie near the end of a meeting of the Comité des Fetes. Malc had seen it was the AGM on the village notice board and thought with the events we organised last year in the village it might be useful to meet the comité des fetes members.
I have never seen teenagers in the village till tonight and sitting around the table was a bunch of kids, I do not think I was ever that young. The secretary and treasurer were middle aged and seemed to have it all under control. The Mayor sat next to me and I said "where did all these youngsters come from?" It worked out they had been born in the village but many now lived in Laguepie or Milhars.
Marcia and I sneaked away when the kids got out their iphones to play rival bands they wanted to book for the summer, punching their fists in the air in time to the music. I have never felt soo old ...  definitely antiquated.
Tonight was not a language problem more an age thing. The kids probably wondered why the two grannies had come and the Mayor, well he sneaked off before us.
Now we know why we say every year  "who chooses  the bands at the summer fètes?"
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Down the Aveyron, part 2

Dear Val and Malcolm,
After recovering from paddling from Varen to St Antonin we decided to continue our travels onwards to Bruniquel.  The distance is similar so we anticipated another six hour stretch of paddling.  We arrived in St Antonin to the busy hordes visiting the Sunday market and parked next to the river amongst the camping cars.
As this was our fourth trip we were well practised in sorting ourselves out and the canoe was inflated and ready to go in short order.  We received a number of passing comments from some purveyors of the English language who were picnicking on the river bank, all positive, so we joined in asking if they had some champagne to help launch our canoe.  So with laughs all round we jumped in and paddled off joining various other canoeists along to the first weir.The first picture is of a family out canoeing I managed to time the shot so their faces were not obscured by their paddles and I really like the way the water droplets catch the light coming off the boy's paddle.
We saw plenty of grey herons along the route but they would fly off as soon as we, or other canoeists got too close.  To get this picture of the heron we steered the canoe so we remained hidden behind a huge boulder in the middle of the river.  The water was clear enough so that we could see the fish he was hoping to catch, maybe next time we will bring some fishing tackle but I am not sure I could stand the tedium.
Coming down some rapids we caught a view of Penne Castle perched on its craggy outcrop high above the river, but I had only packed my telephoto lens and I could not capture the scene of the medieval castle, village and the river, so we stopped the canoe and I waded back upstream in bare feet ouch! as I had also not packed my canoe boots, sometimes I do wonder about myself.
In case there are any readers that might be chasseurs, I am not going to disclose where I took the picture of the young deer.  It was getting dark as the weather had turned from sunny to very cloudy but I heard a noise to my right - water is such a good conductor of sound - and looked across and saw a young deer munching on leaves on the edge of the river. It looked at us and did not seem to be too perturbed so after a couple of snaps we quietly glided past leaving it to its repas.

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Click on pictures to enlarge

Lovely little dog seeks new home

bonjour comment allez vous?
je vous envois les photos d'une petite boule de poil nommé Délia, elle a un an, elle est géniale! Elle aime les chats, les enfants et adore les chiens!! elle ne chasse pas, n'est pas fugueuse, elle aime la voiture!! merci pour elle!
Maeva Vay  contact: maeva82@gmx.fr
Maeva from the St Antonin dogs' home sends details of a little dog called Delia. Friendly with cats, dogs and children, Delia doesn't chase things, doesn't run away and loved to go in the car. Sounds perfect. Contact Maeva above.

Lots for sale

 Hi  Val
Would it be possible for you to put an advert on Taglines for our house clearance sale. As you know we are in the process of moving back to England and although we have sold most of our house furniture we still have many items of bric-a-brac, tools and other items including some of dolls and other ceramic products made by Jenny.
We are planning for a sale at our house:
 "Les Cognassiers", Ponget, St. Antonin Noble Val   - tel. 0563680265
 on Saturday 4th.Oct. starting at 1000hrs.
 If you require any further information we will be pleased to oblige.
 We will also keep you up to date about our departure as requested, when we met at the cinema last week.
 We have enclosed a picture of some of the ceramics.
 Jenny & Peter

What's happening to le Stade?

Toulousain, that is. The mighty Stade are bottom of the league, with 5 defeats, including this weekend's thumping at Bayonne (35-19). Only Castres, the actual champions last year, are below them. With only 7 games gone there is time to put things right, but like Man Utd in that other sport, nobody is frightened at the prospect of meeting the Toulousains this season.
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Chemists on strike tomorrow

Many pharmacies will be closed tomorrow (Tuesday 30th September) in protest at the government's plan to allow the sale of certain non-prescription drugs in other outlets, mainly supermarkets.
This is the latest in a series of such protests at plans to open up certain jobs and professions to wider competition: hospitals; doctors; notaires; huissiers; taxi/ambulances; all have had days of strikes or demonstrations in recent months.
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Help ... but there is always the lavoir

Hi Val
Wondered if anyone can help: my washing machine has broken and is going to the menders. Has anyone got a large good washing machine for sale. 0563 242172 or email kailsley@hotmail.com many thanks

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A male cirl bunting

Dear Val and Malcolm,

I do like these little challenges that you give your readers.  I could not come up with a two-ring gascooker for the Parisot literary festival but I do have a Cirl Bunting picture or two.  These are pictures of a male Cirl Bunting which are more colourful than the female, he was either looking for food or having a drink in our pond last year.

Val says I knew I should have asked Nev
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A cirl bunting on our bank

We spotted a pretty little cirl bunting on our bank this morning, they could be here all year but it is the first time we have spotted him. Impossible for Malc to catch him on camera so I have used this googled picture.
They are seed and berry eaters and that is what the little chap was doing, eating seeds from the long grass running up the side of the bank to the grand window opening into the salon.
The slope up was in years past for the tractor to mount and pass through the barn door.
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The Senate Elections

Not many of us know anything about the elections to the upper house of the French parliament which took place yesterday (Sunday). The voters are the "grands electeurs", ie locally elected maires and councillors, hence no posters or flyers through our letter boxes. No doubt, however, the voters have been lobbied intensively by the candidates and the results reflect the municipal elections held in May. The Front National gained its first ever two seats in the Senate, in the Bouches du Rhone and Var departments, leading Marine le Pen to call for the dissolution of the Assembly.
The Senate is elected in part every 5 years and this time 178 seats were up for grabs. The results put the right firmly back in charge after 5 years of left dominance.
Locally the winner was a former ally of Jean Michel Baylet the PRG leader, who came third. The maire of Caussade (UMP) was also elected for T&G. In the Tarn the controversial president of the Conseil General (see Sivens post below) was elected along with the former maire of Albi (UMP).
It is not unusual for the Senate majority to be formed from opponents of the government and apart from holding up legislation its powers are limited so expect no great influence on Mssrs Hollande and Valls.
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Involved in a local very important ecological issue

We have now had numerous posts about the dam and reservoir being built at the forest of Sivens, posts from French and English people who are concerned about the noise and police presence or the ecological consequences. I hope the issue goes back to a higher court and all views and parties concerns are taken into account.
I hope the protesters worries are taken on board  and local ministers get involved to decide without further protesters being hurt.

In spirit I am with the local  protesters but would want to try every possible legal route. What about all the Green parties, Nicholas Hulot, etc can you get them involved. Launch a petition at
Change.org and I will sign it and encourage others to find out the facts. Farmers in France generally as we have seen with pesticides and nitrates are not the first people to be concerned about the environment, putting profits first.
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Sunday, 28 September 2014

What is going on about the "barrage de Sivens"?

Hi Val
Here is a letter to explain why many people in the area are opposing the construction of a dam in Sivens, near Gaillac, and why your help is crucially needed.
All the best,
Celia Izoard      celia@piffio.org
September 28th 2014

"You have probably had a letter from the Conseil général du Tarn about the barrage du Testet, the dam it plans to build in the Forêt de Sivens near Gaillac. Signed by the President Thierry Carcenac, it indignantly describes what it calls « illegal occupation » of the woods, « violent protests » and  even  « the ransacking » of the Conseil général's offices which left employees « in a state of shock ». Wow! Who are these these fanatical ecologists? 
Ahum… Well actually they are your next door neighbours. We’ve been protesting against this dam for weeks; here is why.

The 8,4 millions project (public funds only) consists of a dam and an artificial lake. These will cover 30 hectares which implies the destruction of the Testet wetland, a well-known biodiversity hotspot, and the protected woodland of the Forêt de Sivens. The Conseil général argues that the dam is necessary for irrigation and to anticipate on future water shortages resulting from climate change. The problem is that all the surveys were done by the Compagnie d'Aménagement des Coteaux de Gascogne (CACG)1, the company in charge of building the dam. An independent enquiry might have shown that the needs for irrigation have been overrated, and the surface of land requiring irrigation have been doubled in the reports. Also, in the context of climate change, it might have shown that destroying a wetland to replace it by corn production is probably the worst possible option, corn relying on fossil fuels and huge amounts of water and chemicals. But it is well-known that - particularly in South western France – the powerful FNSEA union of agribusiness - usually gets its way, its interests being upheld by local politicians2.

In 2013 the Conseil National de Protection de la Nature, a consultative body for the Ministry of the Environment, assessed the project negatively: the environmental costs are too high, particularly in terms of destruction of animal life (94 protected species). The Testet Collectif has suggested several alternative schemes and associations of the France Nature Environnement federation have pursued the CACG in court on several irregularities. But the Conseil général refuses all public debate on the subject and rushed ahead to begin the work in early September before the courts had judged the case3.

From early September on, dozens – and sometimes  hundreds – of us, people of all ages from Vaour, Penne, Saint Antonin, Milhars or Cordes, have been to the Forêt de Sivens to join the handful of protestors occupying the site since last year, some of them committed activists from the Nantes movement against the Notre-Dame-des-Landes airport. We tried using passive resistance to stop the work, some people climbing to occupy trees. The Tarn prefecture sent in approx. 200 gardes-mobiles who surrounded the woodland and used violence indiscriminately on all protestors.

For days a mist of tear gas floated over the woods where Moroccan workers with chainsaws (who barely understood French, which prevented any communication) and gigantic tree fellers destroyed the centennial oaks of the Sivens forest. On Sept. 8th, in a desperate attempt to stop these machines, a group of young protestors buried themselves in the ground, only their heads visible, facing the gardes-mobiles. As soon as the journalists and Red Cross delegates left, the police fired tear gas towards these demonstrators, trod on them and proceeded through the woods, sending one girl to hospital. Later, unwilling to confront police brutality alone in the woods, protesters went to demonstrate at the Conseil général in Albi where they were once again removed by force. 

Despite the violence of the gardes-mobiles, despite the destruction of the forest (very damaged during the first part of the work), the ZAD4 is still going on there and we are determined to stop the building of the dam. In several villages, local collectives have been created, such as in Vaour. Among other events, a public « family » meeting takes place on the site every Sunday afternoon - food or blankets or tools for the people living there are more than welcome – and a national demonstration will take place on the 24th-26th of October

This land is your land (as Woodie Guthrie said). Help us protect local biodiversity, a sustainable small-scale agriculture and our well-loved landscapes !
1CACG: Whose administrative board includes several local conseillers généraux.
2FNSEA: Hence the fact that angry FNSEA farmers can regularly smash prefectures gates and empty trucks of manure without never being criticised for its « violent » and « intolerable behaviour ».
3Several dams were built and later judged illegal by the courts: i.e in the Tarn, the Fourogues dam upon the Vere near Carmaux, built in 1997, made illegal in 1998 and still functioning despite this.
4A sit-in, nicknamed ZAD (Zone A Défendre, territory to defend) after the Nantes occupation against the building of the Notre-Dame-des-Landes airport.

The Vaour area collective

Soprano, Tenors and Basses needed at St. Antonin

Soprano, Tenors and Basses needed

The Restoration Consort performed its inaugural concert in St Antonin in July this year, which raised 425 euros for the organ restoration fund. The consort is now looking to recruit local tenors and basses so that it can continue running concerts on a more frequent basis.

To enjoy singing with this consort you will need to be able to either read music, or to learn the repertoire fairly quickly. The group specialises in Renaissance music, but sings a broad program from early 1400s through to jazz. The singers in the consort come from France, England, Belgium and Sweden.

There are no fees to join the choir. If you think this might be for you, call Geof Cryer on 0777 232 772. You can be assured of a warm welcome.
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Now that is worth a try.

Dear Val and Malcolm,

A tip for the wooden steps, put a little bit of sand in your paint.

Views to die for

Views to die for??  Aren't we lucky to be living in such an area with outstanding trails and views like this!?  Can't think of anything better than getting out on a Sunday afternoon and stretching the legs.

K of the Bosc

Val says  we certainly are K
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Too old to be fashionable, suitable or useful!

On my profile on the French Entree site I have described myself as a retired antiquarian bookseller, living an antiquated life with donkeys and loving life in the South of France.
I thought I should google the exact translation of " antiquated" and when I read it I thought wow! that is me exactly never mind the house and grounds.
Do you know that makes me happy as I do not have to care anymore, I can be myself, might not be pretty but it is liberating. Feminine wiles no longer needed
As long as Malc does not start hunting for an updated model ...  a younger one that does the ironing with out complaint!

1. Too old to be fashionable, suitable, or useful; outmoded.

Storm a brewing

Tudor, back home has emailed one last picture of a storm in the distance. He says " do not ask about settings it was too dark to see."
Great photo  Tudor
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Poldark can now cook with style... and gas

Dear Val,

Thank you so much for being so supportive.  We have I think now found a two ring gas cooker so I think we can call off the search.

Thanks again very much.

Love Gina

Good ideas... but

Hi Val
 I have found that the best way to avoid slipping on wooden steps is to staple some wire netting or fine galvanised mesh on each step.

 As to stopping the hunt coming on your land, see this article;
 Best wishes
Val says Thank you John  so much, but on the steps I think  galvanised mesh would be fine for boots and shoes but with little children barefoot on holiday would not work.
 On the chasse article I have seen that info before and interesting though it is I would dread firstly getting the info from the Mayor, even if as the article says the Mayor would give it and then imagine the outrage of nearly all our neighbours who are huntsmen officially or unofficially. 
Letting off steam on TAG, asking the vans to slow down and begging the hunters  not to shoot in the donkeys field is the best we can do we think.

We start with winter jobs

Has anyone used a specialist for wood treatment against insects that they can recommend ?

Also we need ideas to stop the wooden steps being slippery, any ideas of wood paint?
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Cancer support for Macmillan


Dear Val
Your Tag lines readers will be interested to know that the MacMillan/ CSF Tea Party held at Nicki Evans house at Vindrac on Friday afternoon was a roaring  success. 80 people turned up, with a magnificent array of cakes, buns and sandwiches. There were Baking competitions  and raffles and a great time was had by all in the wonderful autumn sunshine. Proceeds will be shared by boh charities and on behalf of CSF  TARN, I would like to thank Nicki and her team of helpers for hosting this great event........ Denise Copley .. CSF, TARN co-ordinator.
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Surf City Biarritz

The beaches of Vieux Boucau at Biarritz will today (Sunday) be the place for cool surfers. Latest boards, lycra swimwear, hot dogs, unintelligible tannoys and car park hell mark the French leg of the world surfing championships - for dogs!
Any dog can enter provided it is fit and if necessary life jackets may be worn. Organisers have fought a long battle with local authorities to get canine access to the beach, which as with many French resorts, Biarritz closes to dogs in summer. But with mayoral approval the event finally goes ahead today. Cant see poor old Twister keeping his balance on a board, but he certainly likes a dip.
Bonny and Twister seem to have lost their boards
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What a wonderful September

Glorious, glorious sun throughout September, it really has been fantastic weather.
The summer was more than disappointing but this month of blue skies, little wind, little rain in our region (must remember the Aveyron and Aude hit by devastating storms)
Sounds a bit like  "I'm all right Jack" but all right Jack we have been.

(originally: "F**k you, Jack, I'm all right!!" - described the bitter dismay of sailors ("jacks") returning home after wartime in the Navy to find themselves not treated as patriots or heroes, but ignored / sneered at by a selfish, complacent, get-ahead society - phrase was subsequently toned down for acceptable general use.) 
Attitude of "every man for himself, survival of the fittest, devil take the hindmost", ... but also, that all the possible advantages (however gained), success (however won) and satisfaction (whatever the cost to others) belong to me first!" Narrow-focus, narrow-gauge pseudo-Darwinian selfishness glorified as a sensible philosophy of society and life.
People who find it hard to say "I'm all right Jack!" outright, say to anyone they find no longer useful: "I'm trying to get my life in order right now, so can you respect that, please?!..." (just before they throw themselves laughing into more fun and merry chaos!)
Taken from the Urban dictionary

Hands off the protected song bird the ortolan

Four top French chefs want to overturn a ban on serving a tiny songbird called the ortolan, long seen in France as the pinnacle of gastronomic delight that connoisseurs such as the late president François Mitterrand used to eat whole and, as tradition demanded, with a napkin draped over their heads. He is thought to have eaten an ortolan as his last meal before he died!
Mitterand might have enjoyed eating the bird, he also enjoyed liaisons with many, many women, should he be held up as a paragon of virtue?

Val says this bird is on the endangered list and could easily be lost forever and these fools are taking about cooking it and eating with a napkin over your head, beggars belief.
Malc says perhaps it has some aphrodisiac qualities!
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Saturday, 27 September 2014

The first story of the chasse this season in the Depeche

Actually it happened in Dec 2013 in the department Lot et Garonne but the case has just come before the tribunal. The tribunal have condemned a man of 72 to two years in prison and a hefty fine for shooting another chasseur. The young chasseur of 28 was shot and is now handicapped in a wheelchair. The trouble is the two years in prison is not going to bring back the young mans health.

This morning we had chasseurs everywhere along our road, dogs, loud shouting, blowing horns as an animal was killed in the very wood we have just moved our donkeys from. (you know where fences were down!) A man was stood in his combat outfit, orange hat, gun at the ready in the second  field the donkeys use and I had to rush out to check where exactly the donkeys where. Fortunately they were all hiding in their field hut frightened by the din of shouting men, barking packs of dogs, horns and a posse of white vans speeding up the lane to congregate at the kill. I was glad the holiday makers had left the gite so they did not have the end of their holiday spoilt.
Tudor, brother in law on holiday who was not used to seeing these autumn / winter activities of the chasse was appalled and thought we should take some sort of action against them. Too close for comfort was his thought.
This is France, Tudor and in the winter the chasse rules the countryside, our fields and lanes... like it or not and the best I can do is let off steam on TAG.
Malc adds and hope we or pets do not get hurt by bullets or speeding vans.
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AA and Al-Anon meetings in SW France

Dear Val,
Reading about your concern about the effects alcohol can have on people, I thought it was timely to let you have the details of AA meetings (Alcoholics Anonymous) and Al-Anon and Al-Ateen meetings (for the family, friends and children affected by the alcohol problems of their loved ones) in South-West France. These are the Gaillac groups, but there may be others.  

It would not suit everyone, but even if they helped one or two of your readers, it would be worth mentioning? All the best,
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There are some people on the pitch who think it is all over, well it is now.

The last renters of the season had packed up and left before nine, Tudor leaves at lunchtime.
It is all over  for us now.
Malc says  "we have quiet times ahead"
Should I let him dream readers?
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This French actor sees it differently

Dany Boon has been named as the President of the Jury for the 2015 César Awards (French Oscars). Most famous for his film Bienvenu Chez les Ch'tis , the most watched film in French cinema history, Boon called for the Academy to give more weigh to comedy. In 2009 at the ceremony he appeared in orange tracksuit joggers and dinner jacket to plead his case. His "media adviser" had said that "if you haven't got a Cesar by 40 you've wasted your life!" Boon was 42 at the time.
Having watched the splendid "Les Vacances de M Hulot" this week we can all agree that M Boon has a point - let's take comedy seriously.
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Sad when talented people end up drunks

Sad when anyone throws their life away by drinking themselves senseless, we see a lot of that in France and from our experience in this area some expats get on to the slippery slope and the " bon descent continues" The trouble is with drunks is they never see their bad behaviour  and even think like Depardieu  " all you need is a ten minutes siesta after a day drinking, have some rosé and then you are fine!
Gerard Depardieu admits to drinking at least 14 bottles of booze a day
The infamous celebrity, who is as known for his steep bar tabs as he is for his impressive acting career, told French movie magazine So Film that he drinks up to 14 bottles a day, starting before 10 am.
“It starts at home with some Champagne or red wine… Then perhaps half a bottle of Pastis. Then there’s lunch, with two bottles of wine. In the afternoon, at around 5pm, it’s Champagne, beer, and some more Pastis to finish the bottle off. Later on, it’s vodka and/or whisky,” the star says, seemingly unconcerned about the heart bypass surgery he had 14 years ago, mainly due to his high cholesterol levels “and other stuff”.
“I have to be careful. But in any case I’m not going to die now,” he says, adding: “I’m never really drunk, just a bit of a pain in the neck. All you need is a ten minute siesta and, voila, a little rosé on that and you’re fresh as a daisy again.”
Think carefully before opening that second bottle, consume alcohol with moderation to continue the good life.

Entreprise du patrimoine vivant

Lore Camillo carries on his family business, Poterie D'Albi  which has been going since 2013.  The state has now decided to award the official label " entreprise du patrimoine vivant" It is an official label given to business of excellence. Lore Camillo is proud of his business and the new label. The website can be in English, they make garden pottery along with other traditional pots and they have a shop which has good opening hours.

Check him out at    www.lespoteriesdalbi.fr.
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Friday, 26 September 2014

Parisot choir welcomes new members

Hi Val,
 would you mind putting this on TAG for us please. Thanks in advance.
The Parisot Choir directed by Jeremy Costes is welcoming new members.
The ability to read music is preferable but not obligatory. Rehearsals
are held every Friday between 7.15pm and 9pm in the Salles de Fêtes in
Parisot. Membership fees, to be paid by cheque before the end of October
are €60 per year (20 per term) or €110 per couple.

Le Chœur de Parisot sous la direction Jeremy Costes accueille les
nouveaux membres. Lecture de la musique préférable mais pas obligatoire.
Les répétitions sont les vendredi 19.15 a 21.00 dans La Salle de Fêtes a
Parisot. Cotisation: a régler par chèque, avant la fin d'octobre 60€ par
an (20 par semestre) 110€ par couple.
Renseignements:Information : www.choeurdeparisot.choralia.fr
President: Francoise Lagarrigue 05 63 65 71 82
Vice President: Elaine Morgan 05 65 81 91 57
Secretary: Tilly Caborn 05 63 31 56 85
Secretary: Pierre Lopinet 06 11 15 61 33
Treasurer: John Ratcliffe 05 82 92 54 32
Vice Treasurer: Annick Galy 05 65 45 44 20

Chef du Chœur Jeremy Costes 06 89 52 57 57

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Both fizzy, one cheaper.

For the first time Prosecco outsold its French rival Champagne.
The Italian variety sold three million more bottles than Champagne last year and the trend is set to continue.
Val says  can we even get Prosecco here?

Betty says   Yes Val,I've seen it in Leclerc at Villefranche.  

Help, we need a cooker

Hi Val,
I am desperately looking for a two ring gas cooker or two single rings for our ‘POLDARK COOKS’ cookery demonstration on sunday morning 12th october at the Parisot Literary Festival.  Poldark has requested gas.  We had been promised a cooker but unfortunately that has fallen through so I am now desperately looking for a replacement.  Do you think you could post an SOS on TAGLINES?
Very many thanks.

Parisot Literary Festival

OCTOBER 10, 11th and 12th 
This is to remind you that the second bilingual Parisot Literary Festival is just a few weeks away. 
I hope you have had a minute to look at the programme on our web sitewww.festilitt.com or in one of the many printed copies that we have been distributing in libraries and shops over the last few weeks. The programme is very varied and we think and hope there is something for everyone. 
The festival team is busy working on all the organisation needed to ensure everything runs smoothly - transport for our authors, reserving seats in restaurants for Saturday and Sunday lunch, sending out invitations to local ‘dignatories’ for the opening eventon Friday night (in French), setting up teams to provide refreshments on Saturday andSunday afternoon (thank you to the very generous volunteers), sourcing, collecting and pricing book donations for our second hand book sale, looking for something ‘Poldark’ can use for cooking, and a million other things.  After all this effort we hope you will have a seamless and enjoyable experience! 
We are particularly pleased with the response to our search for books for our second hand book sale.  We had an initial target of 500, are already up to 700 (English and French) and are heading for 1000.  If you have any books you would like to contribute please let us know on info@festilitt.com.  The books will be sold for 1, 2 or 3€, will need to be in good condition, not too old and worth buying. The sale will be in the mairie all day on Saturday and Sunday and the proceeds will be a great help in the financing of the festival. 
Don’t forget to keep an eye on our blog which has been running for the last couple of months giving all the latest English and French news about the festival –festivallitteraire.blogspot.fr.
I very much hope you will come and join us and help to make this second festival a big success.  Please also forward this to anyone you know who might be interested to come along.
 I hope to see you there!
Kind regards.
Gina Connolly

A winter project with our French friends

Café et Conversation
Nous vous  voudrons inviter  chez nous pour prendre du café
C'est  une opportunité pour les anglais du coin d'apprendre la langue et aussi pour les habitants du bourg de connaitre les autres lieux dits dans  la commune.
Le premier rencontre sera chez Monsieur et Madame Johnstone,  Valerie et Malcolm au  Mas del Sol
Mardi le 7 octobre a 10h30
pour reserver tel  0563640673
nous vous attendons avec plaisir

Val says this is an invitation to English and French speakers of Varen to come for a coffee and chat in French, in an atmosphere where the French know they are helping us to learn the language and swapping cultures at the same time. We will need to know numbers so reservations would be useful.
We have men who may wish to come so have changed the invitation to anglais from the initial anglaises
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Tidying up, packing up and getting ready to go

That is what second homers are doing at the moment, fun summer days over, autumn arrives and like the swallows the second homers leave.
I have advice to help you through the dark cold winter months huddled round your heating systems in the UK or Holland.  Find a French class and start or continue with your French lessons and keep reading TAG to know what we committed Francophiles are up to.
Others will be leaving for warmer climes around the world, we know people leaving for  Laos, Australia and the Canaries and Southern  Spain.
Malc and I will be here holding the fort, with me sticking my head above the parapet from time to time and I will be continuing with my French lessons and grabbing French people off the street to practise my French on.
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What the French dream for

A new survey of the dreams and wishes of the French people revealed nothing too surprising: top of the list was more money. But not necessarily millions, just enough to be secure and look after their close ones. 1 in 6 would like a "nice house" or  a property in the country with a big garden where they could entertain their friends.
Living as we do in such a place we can sympathise with that dream. As the summer comes to an end with lovely autumn weather we are reminded of just how lovely it is to dine outdoors with friends in the garden. Realise your "rêve"  vous français.
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At camping des étoiles at Najac on Sat 27th

The last music night of the season with a local group of 3 singers at the Camping des Étoiles

Arnaud Cance sera là avec ses copains du Groupe du Coin./Photo DDM.

Samedi 27 septembre, le camping des étoiles programme sa soirée de fin de saison sous son chapiteau. C'est Le Groupe du Coin, formation composée d'Arnaud Cance, Nicolas Blaise et Xavier Mouly (qui est un des membres du groupe Place du Village, bien connu à Najac !) qui sera aux manettes. Le Groupe du Coin est un trio vocal composé de trois chanteurs.

What fungi?

Peter Hughes says "Last year I felled a tree on our property which was already partially rotten. In the last few days the stump has "erupted" with at least 3 different species of fungi. Can anyone help me to identify them? My email address is peterhughesvet@hotmail.co.uk "

Do you know what a café gourmand is?

It was a few years and  not before a visit from a French friend that we discovered what a "café gourmand" was. It is a selection of that particular bistro's/ restaurant's choice of cakes and sweets chosen on a plate... yummy delicious if you are a " gateaux" person.
For the best places for a cafe gourmand in Toulouse check out the link
Quite often if you ask for one in any good  eating establishment they will make one up for you.
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Riding in style

Dear Malcolm & Valerie,
Doesn’t this inspire you get some schooling before next summer? The Dalmatians and other spotted items are not obligatory! 

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Dem Donkeys

Eat, bray, love: amorous donkey couple reunited after protests at separation

If you should ever need a story about donkeys....
Val says and reader J of Varen  will be pleased the story is from the Guardian
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Croix de l'aube

Malc and brother in law Tudor are sitting going through their photographs trying to find misty chateau shots to equal Gareths. They have found some good ones but are both feeling piqued as I in my editors role have said we do not need any more misty shots at the moment. Tudor in a huff tells me he is now going to send them to Time magazine!
What we have found whilst looking through is a picture of our " Dawn cross / Croix de l'aube" with the dawn rising behind it, mid way between Mas del Sol and St. Martiel.
You know this is the cross where Daisy our Westie who died is waiting for us,  one by one we will pass on to spend eternity there together.( Bonny, Twister, Freddie, Max etc, probably not Penny the hen. Sorry Penny can come, Malc thinks it unfair to her again and she will be making another banner)
 I am not bothered about physical remains, it will be our spirits which will rest there.
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Season of mists..

Taken en route to Villefranche this morning (Thursday) to buy new tyres.
Gareth Brown.
Val says  and we all know it is Najac

Two billion year old rocks damaged for the view

 Rocks in Brittany which are said to be two billion years old have been partially destroyed by a man who wanted a sea view.
Between last Thursday and Saturday, people in the port could hear the sound of a pneumatic drill, reported Ouest-France. At the weekend, walkers then found that the man had illegally drilled a huge hole in the top of one of the rocks. 
He had been granted permission to complete some work on his house but had been warned not to touch the protected rocks.
What a selfish act and fortunately planning permission has now been withdrawn and a file placed with the public prosecutor. Sadly nothing will bring the damaged rock back.

TOF's report on the Gazpacho

Amazingly we have not had a TOF's report on the Gazpacho at St. Antonin for many a moon, more than two years to be precise. As we were there for lunch today I thought we could write one.
Tudor, Malc and myself love sitting out on the sidewalk watching the world go by and playing that good old game of  " Brit spotting" Malc and I are champions but felt Tudor did not do too badly with his attempts.
The restaurant was busy and all of the terrace was full of  a Chinese pensioners trip, but the service was excellent as always polite and quick. Bear in mind we are talking " menu du jour" but for 13.50 euros and on that level it was excellent. The quiche was very cheesy and yummy followed by chicken farcée, vegetables and chips and the usual choice of desserts. It is really good value and sitting in the lunch time sun with a glass in hand always give one a holiday feel.
Pinch me Malc, is this really our life.
TOF's score has got to be 4 out of 5, seems mean marking them down as we only had the menu du jour but you have to be tough.
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Martin agrees with Alex

Dear Val
I agree with Alex’s comments on religion. I believe religion is not a matter of choice, but based on geography, where you are born in the world. People take one of the few religions of their country and their family, they are not educated on the many available. One website estimates there are as many as 4,200 different religions world-wide. How do you know you are following the true religion? I believe all religions are base on superstition and many are anti woman. Some religions actually preach discrimination against woman and hold them to be second class. The ‘men’ of the Church of England decided woman could be priests just 20 years ago and have only voted this year on women becoming bishops, how very kind of them. There will never be a female Pope and there are many religions that allow men to have many wives, yet I know of not one that allows women to have many husbands.
Kind regards
Martin Feeney.

Val says but how many women would want more than one husband ? 
just think of all the blinkin ironing you  would have!
Malc says that has trivialised the discussion nicely Val
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For dog rescue and Cancer research

Dear All,
 So where did the Summer go, did I blink and miss it ?!  I must have because here we are again preparing our Autumn – yes AUTUMN – Book Sale.  I promise you we have even better books than usual, a good few dvd’s all at 1 euro each, plus, of course, the best homemade cakes ever !!
 Where ?  Usual venue, at Lesley’s beautiful barn in the hamlet of Beliben (just follow signs and balloons) which is just down the road from Sauzet (Lot) in the Cahors direction, or just up the road from St. Pantaleon in the Sauzet direction.
 When ?  Saturday 11th October from 10 am to about 3 ish.
 We are pulling out all the stops to make sure you have a very pleasant morning and/or afternoon.  As usual all proceeds go to Dog Rescue and Cancer Research.  So please come along and support us, we have plenty of books, in fact we have had to turn some away so this is not a request for books it is an invitation to spend some ‘you’ time and prepare your fireside Winter reading, or perhaps poolside if you are heading off for a warmer climate for the winter months !!
Sue at Poor Paws
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A trip down memory lane

It was 13 years ago in September that we tentatively thought of moving to France.  We sat at the bar in the main street in St.Antonin Noble Val, with conkers pinging all around us as they fell from the trees lining the street. We were discussing an old Presbytere we had just seen and liked. A couple of days earlier we had received a phone call to tell us our home in Henley on Thames had sold for the price we were asking in the first week of being put up for sale.
As we lunched, at the next table sat Charles Smallwood who asked how the morning had gone for us. We told him we liked the Presbytere and with what I recall a smug expresion he said that would be a good choice. I suspect over the years he has had many such smug expressions as he seems to be the biggest seller of houses in the region. To be fair he does work hard at it.
Today we had a sense of deja vu sitting  this time in the Gazpacho a couple of doors up from the bar, but with the same trees and conkers falling, we recalled our first tingles of excitement at possibly planning a new life.
Malc sensibly wanted us to wait till we were home before we made  final decision, and so about a week  later after running through the pros and cons we decided to go ahead. The immobilier signed the first act on our behalf and the rest is history.
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