Sunday, 30 November 2014

Daisy hangs up her stockings

Daisy age 8, We are waiting now for Oscar's design perhaps later today.

Internet speed at Najac

Hi Val,
I am very interested to learn about 10 Megabyte internet speeds in the wilds of Najac. Has this happened within the last two months? Certainly when I left end of September, my speeds were still abysmal, 2 MB or less, or none at all! My house being the farthest away from the exchange and my line being old, has always been the excuse. I also wonder whether the fact that so many new houses have been built between my fairly isolated one and the edge of the village, has something to do with it. However, if a change has indeed taken place, I would love to stand corrected. In the meantime, I won't hold my breath.

Kind regards, 

River of ice in 2005 at Najac

Hi Val
I took this photo on Christmas day 2005 when the Aveyron was frozen to quite a depth in the slower moving areas.
We had minus 12°C for about a week.
 Best regards

Christmas is coming for Daisy, Poppy and Oscar

Hi Val,
As it's December tomorrow, we're starting to get excited about Christmas. Daisy, Poppy and Oscar have all designed Christmas stockings so we thought we'd send them to you for your series of Christmas pictures.
Val says three designs all different. Today we are featuring Poppy's design, whose will it be 
tomorrow ? All are equally good and TAG winners. Get ticking enjoyed
By the way Poppy is 5 years old

Interesting article in Al Jazeera

Remi Piet
Val says an article in Al Jazeera called " ISIL and the danger to French values"  I often find this newspaper has interesting contributors.
Remi Piet is Assistant Professor of Public Policy, Diplomacy and International Political Economy at Qatar University.

Comments to

Book swap tomorrow at St. Antonin

A veritable get together and " book orgy" for readers 10. 30h  at the Gazpacho at St. Antonin. DVD's Christmas cards, friendly faces, coffee.
You never see scowls at the book swap.
Comments to

Tsedey working on her handcrafted jewellery at Najac

I’m Tsedey, a jewellery designer / maker living in Najac, France.
I design and handcraft all my jewellery using sterling silver, semi-precious stones and freshwater pearls. I also incorporate textile and resin in my designs, which are Ethiopian woven fabrics or fabrics that my husband, Gareth, weaves using a traditional loom in our studio. I believe the designs are beautiful and contemporary, yet have a unique style.
Since starting my small home business in 2008, I have been mainly selling my jewellery through shows that I hold twice a year from our home.  I also take commissions in bespoke jewellery, for Weddings, Birthdays and any other special occasions.  Please contact me at if you need more information.
Val says we met Tsedey Roscoe a second time this morning at Najac marché . The first time was when the couple offered to help me with all the books at the swap not long after they arrived here. Some lovely things on display and if you would like to see some look at Tsedey's website.        Comments to

River of chocolate at everyones favourite village

Dear Val and Malcolm,
I am sure the river is even higher than when we were there a couple of weeks ago, perhaps you could get some wellies for your Kingfisher.

When we canoed in the summer the water level in the river was quite low and we would occasionally get stuck on a partially submerged rock.   How things can change, here is a picture of the Moulin of Contillou with the river tumbling over the weir or déversoir.  This photo was taken close to everybody's favourite village, you guessed it: Laguépie.

Val says what you miss with photographs are the crashes and roars as the water pours and surges over the weir sweeping along everything the river can find in its paths, trees, branches, even once a dead bloated cow.
Malc says "what sound was the dead bloated cow making? " He is such a clever dick and I expect it was the sound of escaping air from the rear. So Malc says " it was jet propelled was it?
Sorry to spoil your post Nev.
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10 megabytes at Najac, out in the wilds.

Najac has made a concentrated effort to secure good internet connection to the village to encourage people to  live in the village all year round, to buy and rent properties and to make the village vibrant again. Well it seems to be working to some degree, certainly with UK buyers. We met 3  younger couples this morning all living year round in Najac, two having come in the last few months. Here at Mas del Sol we  have about 2 megabytes  and Castanet even less.
In these modern times of keeping in touch, working by internet speed of connection is becoming more important. You can imagine before long on the house sales sheet, price of the property, heating properties of the house with the little chart and finally internet speed of the area. It could even be that gites lose holiday bookings because your connection speed is so poor.
It is something we look at when booking holidays so I am sure others do.
Mayors round about need to talk to the Mayor and councillors of Najac and find out how they achieved it.
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This evening in Villefranche

In the municipal theatre The Wanderer Trio will present a string concert with music by Hayden, Faure and Brahms. The trio are internationally renowned and have appeared throughout the world and the concert, starting at 8pm promises to be a feast for aficionados.
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Organ concert on the 12th Dec

   " Le vendredi 12 Décembre à 21H00 un concert d'orgue sera donné  en l'Eglise Sainte Cécile de Lacapelle-Ségalar  (81170 , proximité de Cordes)  par Frédéric DESCHAMPS organiste à la cathédrale Sainte Cécile d'Albi L' entrée est gratuite , et une collation sera offerte à l'issue du concert dans la salle communale à côte de l'église . "
Comments to

Dynasty continued at the FN

The Front National is holding its annual conference in Lyon and top of the poll for the central committee with 80% of the poll is Marion Marechal-Le Pen. The 24 year old niece of Marine le Pen, the party leader and granddaughter of former president Jean Marie le Pen says her election gives her a legitimacy "beyond her name". The partner of Marine, Florian Phillipot, currently vice-president of the party was 4th in the election. He is said to be the architect of the attempt to "dedemonise" the party and coming so low in the poll behind a young woman said to be more in favour of the harder line traditionally supported by the FN dents this policy.
Perhaps the party is preparing its next generation of harder line, but still family, politicians.
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A later start for the TAG editors

Without Twister who was an early riser we are now getting a lie in. Malc is delighted about this but getting up at eight does push the time allowed for TAG.
I want to go to the marché at Najac this morning so I think we will have to go, go go.
 Bonny says please walk me first, she is such a polite dog.
Comments to

Toulouse Lautrec clinic at Albi wins champion of the prostate award

If you have a problem with your prostate the clinic Toulouse Lautrec ( the clinic not the musée as I was explaining to Malc) at Albi is the top in France. The results of hospitals and their specialities have just been published.
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Is this picture in the Toulouse Lautrec musée at Albi or at the Parc expo this weekend in Toulouse?

I leave it to the reader to decide.
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The Tarn leaves its bed

"Le Tarn sort de son lit" struck me as an odd headline but then I thought in English we talk about the river bed. Learning French makes you more aware of English words and expressions.
The Tarn had left its bed in Montauban.
Comments to

Sarkozy is back

Les résultats

Participation : 58 %, le plus fort taux de participation pour une élection à la présidence de l'UMP.
> Sarkozy : 64,5 % élu dès le premier tour.
> Bruno Le Maire : 29, 18 %.
> Hervé Mariton : 6, 32 %.

Film produced by Syrians living in the Tarn

Soirée proposée par l’association O’Babelbut
vendredi 5 décembre 20h30
cinéma Le Querlys à St-Antonin

Projection du film "Our terrible country", de Mohammad Ali Atassi, qui vient d'obtenir le grand prix du documentaire au FID Marseille et 
​ le prix Ulysse ​
 au Festival Cinémed Montpellier.

Des amis Syriens, vivant dans le Tarn, seront là pour présenter le film et échanger avec les personnes qui le souhaiteront.

L’histoire : « Our terrible country » est un road movie qui se déroule dans une Syrie au bord du gouffre, parcourue par deux résistants aux parcours différents. Le premier, Yassin al-Haj Saleh (53 ans), déjà vieil opposant, a passé 16 ans en prison avant d’entrer en clandestinité pour servir la révolution. Le second, Ziad Homsi (24 ans), vit dans la Ghoutta, banlieue assiégée de Damas, où il pratique la photographie tout en participant aux combats contre l’armée de Bachar al-Assad. Ensemble, ils vont s’engager dans un voyage à hauts risques.

Nous sommes Dimanche, le trente

I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.
“I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.”
― Jorge Luis Borges
Val adds and with a field attached to keep the donkeys.

Saturday, 29 November 2014

A bit of English news slips through

Hi Val & Malc
 Hope all is well.
 Thought you (or/ and) TAG readers might be interested in this
 Best wishes

World class art in Albi and Rodez

Whilst looking at French Entrée I saw editor and TAG chum Justin Postlethwaite ( he has just completed TAG 10 questions) has written a really good article on restaurants and art in Albi and Rodez. Definitely worth a read. Four of us are going on Tuesday to see the new exhibition at the Pierre Soulages Museum and this visit we have managed to get a table at lunch time in the " Café Bras Restaurant " which is right next door to the musée. I will give you our low down on it all.

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God fights the devil within us!

Malc has written a post on a miracle performed in Varen, at the moment it has six ticks enjoyed.  I did a post about a sex fair being held in Toulouse, sins of the flesh and all that. That has 6 ticks enjoyed.
 We are waiting to see who has the strongest hold on our minds God or the devil.

For new readers this blog is very tongue in cheek, so please no complaints.
(The miracle has not got Papal sanction and in truth why is flesh sinful)
Val says the day after - I think the devil has won
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The Kingfisher theory worked.

The Aveyron was in flood this morning, the  big yellow and black signs were out on the road ""INONDATION" We were on our way to Varen market so changed our route to get down to park near the river. Malc walked with Bonny whilst I went to the vegetable market to supposedly shop but often end up in  a frenzy of bisous and " ca va's " This morning also included a shaking of the fingers and a ooh said through pursed lips  "ooh le vent"  At the marché I often think that with about 5 set French phrases you could get by.
Bonny looked suitably soggy when we met again and a wind swept Malc pointed out that the post he had photographed with the kingfisher had disappeared in the brown furious fast flowing river. So the the little bird got his feet wet and flew off proving Malc's theory of "when he gets wet feet the river is in flood" Better than all the technical stuff.
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A thousand years of Christmas

We are delighted to announce that there are still a few tickets available for the new show on Sunday
 14th December - a captivating seasonal offering featuring our very own FET president,
Donald Douglas! 
A THOUSAND YEARS OF CHRISTMAS, created by the distinguished soprano (and local resident)
 Sally Bradshaw, is an in-depth and often hilarious look at Christmas - from Mediaeval mysticism to 
hangovers by way of Dickens, 17th century frosts and department store SantasSally Bradshaw sings 
mediaeval carols, Music Hall and art songs, whilst Donald Douglas reads a breathtaking range of 
characters and moods, and Michael Haslam plays piano, psaltery, bells & violin. 
This show has been a sell-out hit in venues up and down the UK and further afield, from Italy to 

Borneo, and we're sure you'll love it too.
SUNDAY 14th DECEMBER at 5pm (doors open 4pm)
To reserve your seats, please email
Ticket price : € 15 members  € 20 non-members
NB: Tickets are sold on a first-come-first-served basis, according to when we receive your email.
 Deirdre Honey FET Secretary

From one Val to another, classic car information.

Hello Val,
Could this meeting go on your blog?
 We're making the most of the good forecast next week so are having the last classic car gathering of the year at the Lac de Parisot 82160 at 11.00am followed by a slap up meal at the Bar de la Valee, Cornusson 12.30 (menu fixe, reservations on 05 63 67 06 80). All welcome, with or without a classic car. Please note it's on the Saturday this time! More information from , 06 04 14 32 67 or find us
 Kind regards

French Entrée tweeting TAG

Hi Val
You may already be aware of this but French Entree magazine is carrying your piece on Laguepie etc, and they tweeted about it on the 27th.
Val says the photograph of Laguepie taken by Gareth Brown is one I just love.

The games people play

It is a fairly dull, windy and possibly rainy day, so why not get along to the Salle des Fetes in Espinas where from 14h to midnight an array of indoor games will be available, including 6 table tennis tables (take your own bat if you want), Go (remember that?), chess and other "jeux de societe". If you want to instruct the locals in your particular favourite game take it along with you.
Entry is free and a buvette will be available.
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Eyes popping at the Parc des Expos at Toulouse

I am not at all sure about this but the Depeche tell us that to honour the female members of the public there will be a male strip tease reserved for the most beautiful men (do they turn ugly ones away and who decides) There will be beautiful women doing striptease of course and it will all be to rhythm with movements sexual and torrid, I am starting to feel faint! There will be numerous stands selling nightwear, sex toys and sexy shoes, must be boots I would think( but do not know) 
Well who knows in all our readers there may be many who fancy a bit of "je ne sais quoi" but it is all beyond me ( maybe 50 years ago) We did watch a blue film once when young with new neighbours. We  thought we had been invited to see a nature film. Took us some diplomacy to get out of that one!
There is an age limit over 16's but Malc thinks there should be an upper limit for safety reasons or a certificate of health  produced like the ones you need for playing boules or joining walking groups.
Salon de l'érotisme et des spectacles, samedi 29 (14 heures à 1 heure) et dimanche 30 novembre (14 heures à 20 heures), parc des expositions de Toulouse. Entrée : 17 € (12 € via Interdit aux moins de 16 ans.

"Petit Prince" original for sale

A water colour original used in the most famous French children's book "Le Petit Prince" will be auctioned in Paris next weekend. It shows the Turkish astronomer who discovered the Prince's planet explaining how he made the discovery. But the interesting point is that the Turk is wearing western European dress rather than indigenous garb. Antoine de Saint Exupery, the author, said the real astronomer on whom he based the illustration had been ignored when presenting his discovery of asteroid B612 because he was wearing eastern clothes, ignoring his expertise because of racial prejudice. The illustration is expected to make about 300000 euros.
comments to  

Tax on second homes

Val says we are rushing out but I thought this article in the Telegraph might interest some readers
Comments to

Aude, parts of Tarn and the Aveyron hit

Tornados, wind and rain hit parts of the South of  France yesterday, many pictures in the news of cars stuck in floods and swollen rivers. Once again our little area around St. Antonin has been lucky, but we certainly sympathise with others so close to us.  Comments to

The wind dies away then returns and flowers continue to grow.

It is mild out in the fields and although the wind died a little yesterday it is back this morning. The  donkeys who do not like the wind ended up staying in the stable this morning, all calmly being fed their hay.
 Yesterday I moved a few strawberry plants and was suprised to see flowers on some of the plants. As I write this, the same story is on the BBC news, flowers and plants going haywire flowering in November. The first frog spawn has been seen there in the UK and here the ticks continue to thrive when normally we  are only bothered in the spring.
 Global warming, who is not a believer?
Comments to

The UMP needs a strong chairman then leader, is Sarkozy the one?

France’s former president Nicolas Sarkozy looks set to become chairman of his right-wing UMP party in Saturday’s vote to choose a new leader - but a narrow lead could yet hamper his presidential ambitions.Winning the ballot, which will be decided by the UMP’s 268,000 party members, means 59-year-old Sarkozy would become the official head of France’s main conservative parliamentary opposition group.It doesn’t mean he will automatically become the UMP’s presidential candidate in the 2017 election – that's due to be decided in a party primary in 2016. But chairmanship will be a solid first step towards that goal.Sarkozy will need a strong majority if he is to overcome bitter divisions within the UMP and the threat of an increasingly popular far-right National Front (FN)party – and his lead has been upset by a surprise performance by rival Bruno Le Maire, a former minister who says he wants to “breathe new life” into the UMP.Party members say Le Maire ran a better campaign and he is expected to take around 30 percent of the vote. The other candidate is lawmaker Hervé Mariton, who looks set to take just 2-3 percent.   News 24

Nous sommes Samedi, le vingt neuf

Oscar Wilde
“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.”
― Oscar Wilde
Val says and that is what I like about TAG  readers, we are all here to live, and we do, no just existing for us.

Friday, 28 November 2014

Varen - the Lourdes of Tagland

Looking down on patients in Varen

comments to 
Earlier in the week the sub was fairly sure he had suffered a hiatus hernia (or worse) and uncharacteristically made an appointment to see our GP in Varen's new health centre. It seems the doctor was dealing with an emergency and the appointed time came and went, and went. He jokingly said to another patient (appropriate) "by the time I see the doctor I will be cured". Eventually the doctor, after a thorough examination, pronounced that there was absolutely nothing wrong. "A miracle". On leaving the surgery he spotted that the health centre is overlooked by a statue of the Virgin Mary. So perhaps it was a miracle. A tweet to the Pope will be sent off to get the miracle recognised. Imagine the tourists in Varen....

Val says I cannot believe you have told the world and his wife about the miracle. The car park is only small, before you know it parking will be impossible. The boulangerie will be sold out selling to reporters around the world. Sometimes you just  have to keep miracles to yourself Malcolm ( given him his full title to show I am cross!)

Tutorials for all your media needs

Andrew Media Man wants to remind readers that he is available over the winter months to give tutorials on all your media devices, computers, smartphones and now even smart TV's 50 euros for a between 2 -3 hour sessions and less if you book more than one.

How utterly satisfying TAG is for both Malc and I

A quick run down on how it works, TAG I mean. Get up, breakfast in the salon, Ipad on one knee favoured cat of the day on the other. Shower then walk Bonny, back in for a cup of tea and discuss the days agenda.Any post that have been sent are quickly copied and pasted then generally off out and about. This morning I made 30 mince pies or as they have been called in the past mice pies, be careful at our house they could easily be that as enough of them are brought in by the cats.
 Malc head in hands pondered the bridge results he was working out for everyone. He and partner David were showing to have won but Malc knew there was an error. David had emailed to say " Do not look too hard Malc" A quick lunch ipad on knee afterwards and change of cat. Malc still pondering bridge results so I gave Bonny a decent walk and then continued barrowing my really lovely manure about (do not be silly it is not exactly mine, it is a year old donkey pooh and straw, such a fine texture.) You see I can rave over something in the garden like that but get really cheesed off in the kitchen baking.
THIS is the bit I like, went to the Post box to discover a cheque for 80 euros made payable to Liberte des Anes
There was a postcard with it from Jane the first Mummy and saviour of Jude now Besse. The kind new parents, of Jude now Besse who had come a four hour drive for the little mite had given a cheque  to Sue at Poor Paws and another to TAG. Some people are just wonderful and to Ray and Sue I gave a really big thank you. Donkeys need a lot of feeding in the winter so a goodly sum like that will really help.
How utterly satisfying TAG is.
It might be a good time whilst you are all getting in the Christmas spirit to think of ones less fortunate then ourselves and If you want to make a special donation to one of TAG' s charities just because you would like to then the charities are listed below. If you are a taxpayer in France and most of us are you can claim back sometimes up to 60% Cheques  big or small are made out to the charity of your choice then sent to us. If you do not want your name mentioned I will respect that, just send to
Valerie Johnstone
Mas del Sol

TAG charities are
Via Sahel Enfants d' Afrique
Liberte des Anes
Cancer Support
Alzheimer's 82
AGMOMP, a cancer charity
Comments to

Invisible thread, the title is a good start

 Hi Val
I have great respect for readers, I write literary fiction which shows respect for their intelligence and imagination. My books have been slow burners for many reasons not least because my publishers , one of the biggest international publishers  in the world, didn't know how to market them well in the UK. A lot of success is down to my input, building my own website, giving talks at literary festivals and schools and museums worldwide, teaching , social media, writing letters and emails, appearing on radio like BBC  radio four and many others, newspaper and magazine and online interviews. All my own work to set up except the radio interviews in UK and Australia. I even set up the literary festival appearances. Girl 43 is under contract with a film company . It is now a very important historical record based on true events that prompted two major government apologies in Parliament in Canberra . These were followed by a Royal Commission Inquiry earlier this year . The site and buildings where the institution in question is situated, west of Sydney, is being preserved for future generations as a Living Museum. There will be a Memorial Garden for children and families to enjoy and reflect on past brutalities. An exhibition and preserved rooms like the dormitories.So you see Girl 43, and it's first edition as Invisible Thread , is an important book . What has happened since it was first published is incredible for all those affected - the Apologies, the Inquiry and the enormous publicity and public interest. So when I offer it to book groups for discussion and also offer to come along and talk about it they are very eager. But some book group leaders don't understand the book's significance , mainly through lack of knowledge. So they make stupid comments, like. "It's not everyone's cup of tea."Anyway Val I have been up since six walking and doing chores. Time to look after my illness now and get a healthy breakfast!
Maree xx 
Val says I know Maree Giles quite well and  like her very much but do not know her writing. I feel guilty that I have not read one of her books but having asked which one I should buy to sample Maree has suggested Invisible thread as it is available from Amazon or Little, Brown Book Group
Heavens do not order from Amazon it was £50 for a paperback!
Searching Little, Brown Book Group you can buy it for 9.99 presumably pounds

Comments to

Just like Mary Poppins

Hi Val
You made me laugh reading your piece on Malcolm and the hay this morning. It's very windy here too. There is something very unsettling about those strong winds. It is the southern wind that is said to send people crazy. Did you know that?
The blacksmith just rang saying he’ll be ½ hour late as he has an emergency to attend to.
We’re off to Jan’s for lunch today at the Donkey sanctuary. We have not been there for ages and we’re looking forward to catching up with her news.
Stay in as we would not like the news that Val has flown off....

Great cooker for sale SOLD

Dear Val,Here's information on the stove we are selling.  We are moving to Spain and our new home has the exact same range (lucky me). It's less than 2 years old and if you love to cook, you'll love this range.
SMEG CG90X - range for sale
90 cm wide/ 60 cm deep.
5 gas burners
large 109 liter electric oven (with extra rack, so there are 2)
Needs to be picked up (near Vaour)
Less than 2 years old
Mint condition
500 euros (great deal)
contact Ali at

3 million Youtube views for Albi footballer

It's not uncommon for footballers (or perhaps their agents) to post videos of their best goals. But a goal scored by a player for an Albi amateur team has been nominated for the prestigious FIFA Puskas Prize for the goal of the year. Even more surprising is that the goalscorer is a girl. Stephanie Roche is from Ireland and scored her goal when playing for her former club, but the prize contenders include Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Robin van Persie from leading European clubs. Stephanie's goal, filmed with just one camera, has already had 3 million YouTube views and according to the local press has the world's media beating a path to Albi. Have a look on this link - she gets my vote!( says Malc, Val says well I looked and thought nothing off it)

comments to

Those caring for her ended up killing her

Poor Auberta killed by her transmitter. The transmitter had been planted in her stomach and by climbing trees to get food the little bear had opened the stitches and the wound became infected. Little Auberta abandoned by her mother at birth so already having a tough life and then died  in this way at ten months old.  How sad.
Comments to

Orange alert extended

Meteo France has extended the alert in 5 departments in Midi Pyrenees including Aveyron and Tarn. Mainly further south than us, but until at least tomorrow evening. Heavy rain and very strong winds.
The Var has been very badly hit again during the night with flooding and strong winds causing several cars to be carried away, one person killed and three others missing.
Just after 9 am and we are in the middle of a violent windy storm, great lightening flashes and Bonny is asking for a walk, "dream on Bonny"
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Flying donkeys

Malc is still on early morning donkey duties and always has tales to tell. This morning he felt sorry for the donkey chums as a tree is bang, bang, banging on the roof of their hut, " that must have kept
them awake all night" he told me. Giving the hay it was so windy the wind was blowing it away before he could spread it for them. I had visions of them flying round the field catching flying hay but then I do have a great imagination. The thought of Rosie flying round with kicking heels made me smile till I imagined her flying out of the field. My biggest nightmare is escaping donkeys.
TAG weather forecast of strong winds was correct I often wince when I copy forecasts as I am sure no one can take them seriously as so often wrong.
Keep warm and " fait attention" with the strong winds
Comments to

Nous sommes Vendredi, le vingt huit

Oscar Wilde
“Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much.”
― Oscar Wilde

Thursday, 27 November 2014

What have you got planned for the festive times?

Whatever your plans are for Christmas and boxing day make sure you fit in a walk in the fresh air. Too much eating, too much drinking and no exercise, just not good for you. This is where you need to borrow the neighbours dog and get out there in this beautiful countryside.
We are going to the UK for Christmas but I am sure we will be walking along the Thames even though Bonny is staying here with French  sitters looking after her and the house.
We will be back for New Year and are planning " a knees up" chez nous, quite a rowdy crowd coming,  or is that just one guest I am thinking of?
Oysters and champagne, goose or turkey, salmon or crevettes, so many wonderful things to eat, sexy outfits to wear,( and thats just Malc) great music to play, gosh I do like Christmas and partying.
Malc thinks it is too early for this post, but I am already in Christmas mode after seeing Glynis's Christmas cakes.
Smile.. everyone invited will be wondering if they are " that one rowdy guest"
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A list of reminders coming up to Christmas

Book Swap Monday 1st  10.30 am  Gazpacho St Antonin

Opera Evening at Mas del Sol Wednesday 10th of Dec 6pm

Theatre at Les Cabannes FET Sun 14th of Dec. at 5 pm

Café et conversation  Tuesday Dec 16 th at Le Moulin de Druilhet

Milhars Christmas market Sunday 30th of Nov

Najac Christmas Fair Sunday 30th Nov Place De Faubourg

Verfeil Christmas market 14th of Dec 9h to 18h

Fifi Christmas singalong Sat 13th Dec Salle des Fetes Verfeil

Christmas Fayre Chez Anne Le Verdier, Sat 6th Dec 11h to 16h profits to Resto du Coeur

Caylus Christmas Market and  toy  fayre  13th of Dec Place de la Mairie 9.30 to 17.30

Carol concert at Limogne to be given by Parisot Choir 20 th of Dec.16h

Carol concert at Parisot Church 16h Sunday 21st of Dec

Carol Concert at the Church of St. Antonin 23th of Dec with the Restoration Consort 6pm

The first ever Christmas fayre will be held at Campagnac, Tarn  on Sunday 30th November . For those not in the know Campagnac is about 6km south of Vaour.

        " Le vendredi 12 Décembre à 21H00 un concert d'orgue sera donné
            en l'Eglise Sainte Cécile de Lacapelle-Ségalar  (81170 , proximité de Cordes)
            par Frédéric DESCHAMPS organiste à la cathédrale Sainte Cécile d'Albi .
           L' entrée est gratuite , et une collation sera offerte à l'issue du concert dans la salle communale à côte de l'église . "
Hi Val
Please could you update the Christmas events calendar and send out a correction.
The concert in St Antonin is on 23rd December  and the group is Restoration Consort. 6pm start is correct. 
Thanks very much. 
For more information all of these can be searched.

Batten down the hatches tomorrow

Very strong violent winds and rain forecast tomorrow. Le Grand Sud placed on vigilance orange, certain parks in Toulouse are being closed for safety.
It could be a day for wrapping christmas presents and making mince pies in the dry, warm kitchen.
Comments to

To err is human, to forgive is divine (I am definitely human)

I have an opinion on most things but little knowledge on anything.
 EXCEPT, books and bookselling, donkeys, walking in the countryside, all the posts today in fact that I am knowledgeable about. I did write    "feel" knowledgeable about but then thought no, "I am" knowledgeable about.
A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, where did that come from?
 Alexander Pope 1688 to 1744
An Essay on Criticism is one of the first major poems written by the English writer
A little learning is a dangerous thing;
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring.
This is in reference to the spring in the Pierian Mountains in Macedonia, sacred to the Muses. The first line of this couplet is often misquoted as "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing".The Essay also gives this famous line:
To err is human, to forgive divine.
The line "Fools Rush In Where Angels Fear to Tread" from Part III has become part of the popular lexicon, and has been used for and in various works.    Comments to

Donkey's diary from Martine

Hi Val!
Wednesday 26th November 2014
Bijou had his first training pulling a cart and us in it last Friday but before his training he was tied for one hour to the barn wall while Bichette was being trained, and he didn't like it a bit. He kept stamping his front leg furiously on the ground for ever. I don't know if the stamping damaged his leg or if he twisted his front right leg while being trained but the next day he was limping badly. We gave him Ibuprofen for a few days and this morning we didn't, thinking he might be better but tonight he was limping badly again. I looked at his hoof for a stone but no stone there. I cleaned the hoof but I could not see an abscess there either. I think he might have damaged a tendon or something but there doesn't seem to be any swelling there....
I called anyone with equine connections or experience for advice before calling on the vet. The last time I called the vet, I was charged just under €100 and the vet didn’t even know how to rid Bijou of its parasites!!!
Thursday 27th November 2014
Emilie from the “Gallops du Boisset” equestrian centre, called back first thing in the morning and was here at 9.30am with her tools for a hoof inspection: It is an abscess after all, and she gave me her blacksmith’s name and number. He is very busy for the whole week ahead but will be here at 8.30am before his day’s work tomorrow.
Another neighbour, Micou, who owns a few horses around here, popped in here after Emilie to offer his help with Bijou. He was walking on crutches having put his foot in a hole(!!!) His father was a blacksmith and he had loads of common senses suggestions on equine’s health that he held from his dad.
This is what I have learned from these people:
1-            Never give anti-inflammatory pills to an an animal as it will then behave as if it had no pain and could damage itself even more in the process.
2-            Always call a blacksmith before you call a vet.
3-            If you suspect the equine to have damaged a tendon, make a paste with “argile vert” (from the chemist) and warm water, put it on the animal leg and wrap it with cling film. Repeat every other day.
4-            For parasites, get some sulphur ( stuff used by wine makers) and make a paste mixing it with cooking oil. Put the mixture where you see hair missing, or where the animal bites itself. For a general preventative measure, starting in the spring, use sulphur once/week as a powder on their coat.
5-            An unnoticed abscess will eventually burst but it could take up to a month.
6-            To get rid of a tic on a pet, never use a chemical, even advised by the chemist, as the tic with re-inject the animal with its own blood before dying, which may cause serious problems for the animal as a result. Get a little tool, especially designed for tics and sold at the chemist and pull the tic out with it, then spreading a bit of anti sceptic on the bite.
7-            Always reach out to people around you. They are a precious pool of knowledge and so ready to help. I am so touched by all those people that responded to my call for Bijou. I am also so indebted to old Mr Delrieux and his wife who came from 45kms away with their own donkey cart to train Bijou and Bichette all afternoon last Friday and were not going to take any money from us…
I hope this could be useful to some of you out there!
If I don't have something new to share with you before Christmas, have a good one everybody!

It's nearly Christmas

Hi Val
That means that I'm getting started on my Christmas cakes and here is the first batch.
New for this year are Christmas cake toppers for those of you that want to make your own cakes.
As usual there are a variety of sizes and prices.
As an example the blue snowflakes is 9.50€ and the owl log is 17€
You can order directly from me or come to one of the craft fairs (Le Verdier or Verfeil) or come and view
them at Septfonds.
All cakes come nicely boxed for Christmas
Please spread the word

A jolly walk

Dear Val and Malcolm,
Hopefully this will put a jolly spin on the day.  There are a lot of pictures so pick and choose which you think are okay.
A couple of weeks ago we took advantage of the good weather and after parking at Larroque we set off walking.  The route would take us along the Vere valley to Puycelci where we would connect to the Sentier du Patrimoine and return to Larroque via the Forest de Grésigne and Mespels.  Along the way we were rewarded  with great views of the Vere valley and we even discovered a car that had been parked in the hedge probably about 50 years ago judging by the state of it.
Arriving at Puycelci we had a couple of options stay on the Sentier du Patrimoine or use the GR46.  I chose the GR46 as this traverses the village and I thought there might be something worth investigating.  As it happens there was a rusty old bike stuck on a stack of logs so I took a picture and we carried on.  Shortly after we saw some trees looking very colourful with a bright blue sky above and just a small amount of cloud to make it more interesting, so I took some more photos and slowly ambled off talking to Louise but to my surprise it was not Louise but another lady who had come up behind so with an embarrassed bonjour I retraced my steps.
Just on the exit of Puycelci there was a splendid field maple that I wanted to photograph but it was on the other side of several barking dogs complete with owners.  So, in for a cent, in for a euro, I walked across asking,  sont-ils gentils?, Oui bien sûr was the reply. Two of the dogs were Australian Shepherds, said the lady who had passed me earlier, she then started to tell a tale of the local kittens and how they all meow at different pitches; she even demonstrated the sounds and said that it was vraiment splendide.
Well, after saying our au revoirs we left Puycelci and continued our trip down past the Ancien lavoir de Valès  and onward to the Forest de Grésigne.  I am sure you historians will be pleased to know there is a website dedicated to lavoirs -  We followed the path down into the valley of theRuisseau de L'Audoulou  which then crosses the stream several times culminating in the spectacle of the Les Cascades de L'Audoulou (well, it might be spectacular in the rainy season).  Just after the cascades we passed the boundary markers for the forest and climbed steeply up onto an ancient Roman road through beech and chestnut trees.  Finally, after reaching the top at Montoulieu we descended through stands of pine, holly and oak before reaching the Hameau of Mespels and finishing back where we started in Larroque.

Comments to

Beautiful even in the mist

Hi Val
I love this post, you really are a good writer, so descriptive. You conjure a clear picture of life at your property with the donkeys. Lovely. 
Thank you for sharing these insights into your life.
Comments to

Bored here in the winter, how could you be?

So much going on at the moment our diary / agenda is filling up with great things to do.
Book swap, Opera evenings, folk nights, Carol concerts, Christmas marches/ fairs, English theatre, French theatre, film hivernales, games events at Espinas. I will have to make a calendar of events for TAG, but goodness knows when I will find the time we are out so much. Bored... just impossible if you read TAG and know what is going on.( If you have anything happening you want to promote now is the time to tell me)
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Spy novels don't get better than this

Val says double agents at the Elysée Palace, secret cameras, moles ( we have those by the tons) you struggle to believe what goes on in the top political echelons
Security services at France's presidential palace believe a "Sarkozy mole" took a controversial, stolen photo of François Hollande and Julie Gayet in the grounds of the Elysée, it was reported on Wednesday.
The picture of Mr Hollande and Miss Gayet, an actress and producer, sitting side by side within the walls of the Elysée compound, was published last Friday in Voici, leading the glossy weekly to dub her France's "quasi-official first lady".
The photo raised questions over security and the right to a private life, and cast a pall of paranoia over the Elysée, with a furious Mr Hollande launching a probe into how such an intimate shot was obtained.
While Voici insisted the image had neither been taken from inside the Elysée nor by a drone overhead, presidential security is convinced otherwise.
According to Le Canard Echaîné, the satirical and investigative weekly, the probe has homed in on five potential "moles" – four of them appointed at the Elysée during the mandate of Nicolas Sarkozy, the conservative former French president. By my favourite Telegraph reporter Henry Samuel.

Lawnmower repairs

Hi Val
Horrified to read your list of problems yesterday.  My boss always used to say if you're going to have a bad day have a very bad one and get rid of the c**p all in one go.  
When we needed small petrol-engined repairs recently, TAG readers recommended we went to Franck BREIL in Parisot (05 63 67 33 02).  He was excellent.
xC (Caylus)      
Thanks C
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We need a good news story

 I have just said to Malc, jokingly of course " you do not leave that chair till you write a good news post!"
 The good news for me is that it will be the book swap on Monday, yippee! I will be able to change my books all for free, get a couple of new DVD's and be able also to get some Christmas cards. Now that to me is a good news story.   The Gazpacho at 10.30 in St. Antonin. Monday Dec 1st
The book swap was made possible by TAG as TAG can spread the word, and what a difference it has made to my life ... and my purse. As many books as I can read for free as Cicero says in the quote for the day " a room without a book usually has less dust"  Was it that?
Comments to

We must remain with in Europe, spread the word

Europe without the UK would be able to carry on but not without France, Herman Van Rompuy said during a lecture in Paris this week.“Without the United Kingdom, Europe would be wounded, even amputated – therefore everything should be done to avoid it.“But it will survive. Without France, Europe – the European idea – would be dead”. British Prime Minister David Cameron is promising to renegotiate Britain’s terms with the EU and in particular he wants powers to limit the freedom of movement of EU nationals among member states. Van Rompuy suggested member states are open to change but not to a fundamental principle of the EU. Cameron has also promised an in/out referendum in 2017 if his Conservative Party win next year’s general election.
Van Rompuy is the latest European leader to appeal to Britain to stay in the EU.
Last week French Finance Minister Michel Sapin told The Local that both Britain and Europe would be weaker if the UK left the EU.“If the UK forfeits its place in the EU, then Europe would be weakened and the UK would also be worse off. It has to stay in. But the British will be British, just like the French will be French”.
Sapin’s warning for Cameron came in the same week that France's economy minister Emmanuel Macron also told Britain that “its fate lies within the EU”. A report in the Local.       Val Says  Two things that are important in politics at the moment I think. We all campaign to stay in Europe and by campaign tell family and friends in the UK how important the EU is not only to us with lives out here but to trade with our European partners. The second thing that most of us have no control over is that a strong political force from left or right is needed. So much baggage with Hollande and Sarkozy will give  Marine Le Pen a real entry into politics here, an absolute disaster if that happened.   Comments to

Xenophobes jailed

Three young Frenchmen have been sentenced to prison terms for attacking 6 Chinese students in Bordeaux. The students of oenology were apparently attacked in their apartment by three local men who broke in and threatened them with broken bottles. The reason for the action is unclear, except that the victims were Chinese and there was tension between the two countries at the time.
It seems a prime example of blaming innocent individuals for perceived ills just because they were foreign. Sadly that also seems to be the policy of certain political parties throughout the world.
The perpetrators were jailed for between 6 months and two years plus fines up to 5000 euros.
comments to

Nous sommes Jeudi, le vingt sept

Marcus Tullius Cicero
“A room without books is like a body without a soul.”
― Marcus Tullius Cicero
Val says even these days with ipads and iphones, who could be without a book

Carcassone painted by Winston Churchill coming up for sale at Sothebys

Coming up for sale in Paris, this impression of the city of Carcassone painted on canvas by Winston Churchill. The price range estimated is between 60, 000 and 70,000. Someone's Christmas present perhaps?
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Wednesday, 26 November 2014

We all have them I know

Started well the day, but went from bad to worse. I arrived on time for my physio/ kine appointment for my hand to be told I should have been there yesterday morning not today (I was too busy with Café et conversation to think of that) and today was fully booked so no appointment till Friday. I hope the physiotherapist is in a better mood with me by then or I will certainly be in for some painful hand manipulation. Missing an appointment loses me marks on integration skills that I gained the morning before ... Shucks!
This afternoon I thought one last mow of the back garden and all was going well till I tried to ride under the donkeys water line by holding it above my head. I shot off too quickly and the pipe came down taking off the back cover of the mower and ripping out the petrol tank. Shamefacedly I had to call Malc for help. The mower would not go without petrol so we had to push the big heavy thing into the grange where it will stay until a lawn mower repair man can pick it up.
Not yet fnished with disasters I went to check everything in the gite was OK to discover we had been invaded by swarms of flies, all dead now but creating a fly strewn pattern on each of the three floors.
The days has got to get better,  but it is the sort of day when we then get a donkey escape. I think I had better go and check on the little devils.
We all have them don't we days like this?
Comments to

People with different abilities rather than being handicapped

I picked up on the French word " les handicapées" in a post in the Depeche  and a reader has pointed out in the UK we no longer call people with disabilities handicapped,  they are people with different abilities so my apologies for that, I think the reader is right to point out my error.
 It reminded me of someone once calling Malc a cripple, a word that thank heavens is no longer used.
comments to

Electrical repair man

Dear Val,
I've searched on tag, but can't seem to find anything.  Our condensation tumble dryer needs repair.  Do you or anyone know of a repairman in St Antonin or nearby?

Val says Electrical repairman in St. Antonin, this man comes up all the time. I found him by searching washing machines but will put him under  electrical machine repairs

Who do we know who mends machines?

 Hi Val
 We've used the chap in St Antonin a couple of times (different faults!) and he's done it on the spot at a reasonable price.
  05 81 52 91 35 - Electro Depannage

Jill says    I've used him too, for my washing machine - prompt and efficient and helpful
Comments to

The Kings of France were always fearful of the stroppy beggars from Toulouse.

Val says  great discussions going on " chez nous" at the moment about the choice of name of the new huge region and which city should be the capital. We are both in agreement with Ginny about Languedoc, the ancient name of the whole area but where should the capital be?
The passage below shows it has been a matter of discussion over the centuries.

Resulting from this intricate entanglement of administrations and jurisdictions so typical of France before the French Revolution, it is hard to say which city was the capital city of Languedoc. Toulouse and Montpellier both often claim to be the capital of Languedoc. As a matter of fact, in the 18th century the monarchy clearly favored Montpellier, a city much smaller than Toulouse, and with less history and memories attached to it than the ancient metropolis of Toulouse, of which the kings of France were always fearful. However, most people consider that Toulouse is the real capital city of the province of Languedoc, due to its old status as center of the county of Toulouse, and due to the mighty power of its parlement. On maps (both ancient and modern) showing the provinces of France in 1789 (in fact the gouvernements as was explained above), Toulouse is always marked as the capital city of Languedoc.
Comments to

Dance like there is no one watching

Hi, Val and Malcolm
One thing to add to the Purkey quote is that of Lewis Hamilton prior to the Grand Prix at Abu Dhabi last Sunday. This was to be the World Championship decider, and he said that he was going to "drive the car like he stole it"! He did so, and is now a two-time World Champion.
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