Wednesday, 30 September 2015

More pictures

Val says I am having trouble trying to get all the pictures on with the ipad. I will ask Malc if he can do it with his computer

No 1 Everyone loves a tabby cat..
No 2 The church from which wonderful singing & drumming erupt most mornings
No 3 The inside of the church, the warmest, most comfortable place in the jungle
No 4 The camp nearer to the beach where the sand cuts across your face pushed by an icy wind.
No 5 Part of the main street in the Syrian quarter, a lot of water lying deeply with huge mosquito's as dusk fell. Our last delivery of the day was blankets to these people, some of whom had none.
No 6 End of another long day
No 7 Small shops are becoming fairly plentiful with goods being bought locally & sold at a profit. Works well if you have money.
No 8 This man was given frames & pallets today & built to his own design, he's put his tent on the base for tonight so no one can steal it.

Laura's nightly update

Now in the label " Aiding refugees"

Space in a car/ Chris had 4 offers and is now sorted

Hi Val,

We leave for England on Friday and the car is jam-packed as we are taking more back than usual in case we cannot return next year.
I wonder if anyone returning to the North of England has room in their car for my golf clubs?
The nearer to East Yorkshire the better for me to pick up.
I would be really grateful and will obviously pay  handsomely for the additional ' hassle'.
I can arrange for someone here to deliver them to an address within 'striking distance' of Verfeil.
Best wishes to everyone we know here and hope you have a 'gentle' winter.
Chris Gee

Val says save journey home Chris, love to your Mum and take care. x

Furniture for sale

Hi Val
I do hope all is good and you are back feeling settled now you have decided not to move.
I have some furniture to sell , I would photograph it and put it on Tag , but me and technology dont mix !
So I have a single divan with 2 drawers . 
A corner unit, a dresser, , coffee table, occasional table, telephone unit all in Yew not perfect but OK. . 50 % of sales for the refugees.
Thank you
Jo x
Val says you do not know how relieved we are Jo. Not one of my better ideas that!

Second hand pool required

Dear Val,
I am looking for a good quality second-hand above ground pool.
Ideally it would be at least 8 meters long and have wooden sides.
If anyone has one has or knows of a pool for sale please let me know.
Best regards,

Out of ground pool with steps 10 euros for the fund/ SOLD for 25 euros

Yet another "C" We now have 3 different C ' s

Everything works, filter etc. 10 euros to the refugee fund if interested.
How great, someone will pay 25 euros for the refugees and here is their reply

Hi Val
Excellent, thanks I will tell the kids, they will be delighted! I will send a cheque now so you can add it to the fund and then arrange to pick up the pool when life is a bit calmer if that is ok.

I love what you are doing for all the refugees, and it has cheered me up to find that not all the English over 55s here are ukippers !
Thanks again

Comments to

Lots and lots of boxes/ someone who is actually moving wants them.

Planning ahead for the move which as you know was aborted we collected from someone and bought from another 20 euros worth of cardboard boxes of all sizes for packing and  storing when moving
Anyone who is really moving please ask, loads of bubble wrap on a roll and many boxes of all sizes.
20 euros for them all now. Buyer to collect.
Comments to

What a cutie, worth a drive up to Bergerac?

Ceiling light, all complete nothing broken

Got to be worth 15 euros to the fund of anyone's money.
Malc says " will you leave things alone, we will have nothing left" He was kidding.
Comments to

If you have things to sell you can post for free

That is if the funds are going to the refugee fund, or if an expensive item partly to the fund.
Comments to

Iron cot, decorator piece for sale/ SOLD

Needs a new lick of paint but a solid piece. How about 40 euros to the  refugee fund buyer to collect. Malc says hang on did we not pay a lot of money for that in a brocante a few years ago!!
Needs must Malc, 40 euros can go along way to a refugee.

Italian leather bag and document holder for sale

Fabulous quality leather bag, 20 euros or more if you wish, towards the refugee fund. Could be taken to St. Antonin lunchtime on Sunday

Once again, how to donate for Laura and Sid with the hat.

These two have been doing sterling work building shelters for refugees. They have been paying for the building materials on their credit card, with the promise that we will all raise the cash to pay them back.
Please send cheques made payable to Laura Havard

The couple are  still there but will come home and be going again in November with their bus full of bedding and clothes. Please keep donations coming for their brilliant work to continue.
Sid in the hat, you and your hat are famous. Laura with your smile you  have eased our pain a little with your compassion.
Comments to

Everyone wants to help

Hi Val and Malcolm

Can you pass our congratulations onto Laura and Sid please for the sterling work they are doing in Calais. We are a 1,000 strong group from across France on Facebook, collecting and donating for refugees in Calais and beyond, supporting volunteers and sharing information. I have now shared their work with the group and will continue to do so.

Our FB group is if you or any of your readers would like to join our community.

Kind regards

Ponchos for refugees in Greece

Hi Val,
Here is the link to my campaign.  Thank you very much.

This works :

Ps i am sending you a small cheque for Laura
Jacky Malotaux

Val says Jacky is the lady who took the medicines and bedding to Greece. She has now started this campaign.

Everybody loves tractomania at Caussade


La Tractomania se tiendra les 17 et 18 octobre 2015

Les passionnés de tracteurs anciens et de matériel agricole se retrouveront à Caussade pour participer à cet événement devenu incontournable. Les visiteurs pourront assister au défilé  de machines impressionnantes, visiter une safranière ou bien encore une chapellerie installée sur les Promenades.

Five unmissable restaurants

 Five restaurants that are described as unmissable in Toulouse.Anybody been to any to do a TOF (TAG on food) report.

Comments to

Nous sommes le mercredi, trente septembre

Lovely to wake up and have received a mail from Ann in New Zealand.
I did wonder if our caring for refugees would mean people who did not agree with helping refugees would leave TAG but I am happy to report reading figures are staying strong there are more caring people than we could ever have thought.
I think all the newspapers are full of this terrible world people displacement crisis and it cannot be brushed under the carpet as if it was not happening.
Thank you all for your support.
To keep you up to speed with what readers are doing we have created a new page called "Aiding Refugees". Just click the tab above to see the latest reports.
Comments to

Caring for those who need support

Hi Val &Malc

My silence does not mean I am not aware of and sharing in all that is being reported on Tag.'
I am sending under separate notice 100 Euros to help that incredible couple  I just wish it was more but life here is sill pretty tough for many and I try to help them also.    
So glad that you have made a decision about your home    I am also happy for Coco & Filou  hopefully they will remain part of your tribe.
You are in my thoughts daily and life in taglands still helps when life here is still difficult.     Having said that life for the refuges is still far worse than us.
Love and Kia Kaha (stay Strong)

Malc   The World Cup is going to be interesting.
Sad to hear the news about Christine.

Take care and much aroha (love) to you all

Val says to new readers Ann lives in Christchurch in New Zealand, she knows hard times when she lost everything inthe earthquakes there. She is an avid TAG reader as when she was down she clutched at remembering happy times and one of these times was a  happy holiday in St. Antonin. She found TAG many years ago and enjoys " the TAG community spirit" which we all enjoy. Your contribution Ann, to help refugees is more important than most and much appreciated.
All the pets did " high fives" when we said we were staying and of course the donkey tribe will now stay together. Filou and Coco are especially loving to us since we told them.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

A smile in the face of adversity

Val says good luck my darling, keep smiling, you are alive and a happy future will be yours in time. Stay safe, you have all our  good wishes.
Comments to

Many of us care.

Val says  I know I am not alone in reading these reports with real sympathy for these people. How dreadful for these things to happen to anyone. Just the thought of escaping death in your own country, tramping miles and miles with no food or shelter, to arrive at sky high fences risking death again to get to a country you feel will give you a good life with work and respect. Then to have riot police with tear gas and batons beating you.
I would be scared stiff there in a situation like that, and I am sure many are scared.
As Laura says" what a world we live in"
But I am not going to be downhearted,  many, many of us care as I know from the daily deliveries of bedding and clothes and the steady amounts of money coming in. Now we have people wanting to house refugees.
Comments to

Good work being done regardless of riot police

Hi Val
No 1 The three Eritrean ladies who live in this tent are all pregnant, their tent drips condensation on them all night, their bedding is saturated & they all have bronchial problems. They only came to our attention today, tomorrow they will get a house.
No 2 Only one of the ladies would be photographed, she was very shy, I don't know her name, her baby arrives in March.
No 3 A log jam of lorries heading for the port causes 100's of people to give chase in a futile attempt to get to England, both the houses with the green & white plastic have been put up by the building team
No 4 With raised batons & tear gas the riot police beat people into submission, I am glad that we, as a high profile bunch of Europeans were there with camera's or i fear it could have been alot worse. We all ended up in tears, what a sick world we live in.

Laura's nightly update

Hi Val, 
Another gloriously sunny day up here thank goodness. Very productive, several Kurdish men joined the team today & oh boy do they work, magnificent.. total focus & incredibly efficient, good lads. We achieved our target of 10 house kits being carried down the track today, all bar 1 were for the Eritrean end of the camp, the last went to an Afghan couple who had picked a terrible spot right by the toilets for their tent, they told us the rats keep them awake all night, they will put their kit house together up on higher ground. As the camp becomes daily ever fuller the problems of finding space for even a small dwelling grow. Today after a fire the HelpCalais group gave out fire exinguishers, candles in tents ... enough said.
Every morning after dropping Sid at the construction site i head for the warehouse to fill the van with specific items that i have been asked for the day before, it could be bedding, a pan to cook in, a spoon to eat with or a bowl to eat out of, a coat, baby clothes, nappies, gloves & always shoes - such simple requests. These proud people should not be living like this. Today I found, as if by magic, not only a bicycle but boxes containing about 400 wind up led lanterns that were hidden away in a dark corner of the warehouse, these were speedily distributed but we need more... alot more - light in the dark evenings is a godsend. The smallest task takes ages to achieve here, everywhere one goes one is followed by calls of "Mami, bring me shoes, i no have shoes, house, i no have house, come look my tent it no good - Mami, help Mami." and so the day commences.
Over 5000 refugees & a tiny pool of dedicated volunteers, alot more volunteers who seem to treat the place as some sort of festival site much to our utter disgust. 
Laura & Sid x

Anyone with an interest in helping refugees try to get to Michelle's Sunday

 Hi Val

Roll up, roll up, cakes for Calais at the home of Michelle Jones in St. Antonin. Cakes baked will be welcomed. All proceeds raised to go to Sid and Laura who are building temporary shelters for the needy at Calais, concentrating it would appear on housing pregnant ladies and young children.
Michelle lives just before the Guinguette de la plage car park on chemin du Baton in  st. Antonin.
Venez, venez cakes pour Calais.

Val says I received this letter today and am encouraging the ladies to come. I am not sure how we can get refugees rehomed but Michelle may know and with all our heads together and with input from Sid and Laura, who are up there working, we should be able to get a plan together.

 Rehoming Syrian refugees

Hi there Val,

Great to make contact. I live in Montaigu de Quercy and now that summer visitors have gone I have a family sized room with an en-suite upstairs in our house which I would love to offer to a Syrian family. I am keen to help a family get a new footing in the world and help them on their way to recovery with schooling, jobs etc... I've just been in the dark as to how to go about this in France but if you have found a way then great. And please let me know if I can help you in your campaign at all. I have another friend who is equally serious about housing a family so hopefully we can get some people out of the camps and into homes.

Happy to come to St Antonin to meet too if easier for you.

Val says hope the ladies can come on Sundaywhen rehoming can be discussed, please anyone else interested do come.
Comments to

Trouble with the builder

Dear TAG readers
We are a local English family who bought our beautiful second home 9 years ago. It was a complete restoration project & we were fortunate to have lovely artisans working with us....all bar one. We finished our build years ago, but 2 1/2 years ago were presented with a very large &  illegitimate bill (dated 5 years previously!) from the one artisan we had had to ask to leave the project. He is a local stonemason, who, for obvious reasons, we can't identify on this forum. Very sadly for us, the case is going to the High Court in Toulouse next year. We have wonderful testimonials from our other artisans (not one refused their help), so, fingers crossed, justice will prevail. However, we decided to reach out to TAG readers in case this rings any bells with any of you? Apparently this man has a reputation for making life difficult for foreign clients. If this does resonate with you, could you contact us via TAG? We're not sure how it might help yet (apart from a feeling of solidarity), but we might be able at least to think of a way to protect others in the future. And, of course, no-one is obliged in any way to participate in the proceedings.

Comments to be passed on  in confidence  to

The second time of asking

Brand new and unused Supra Prima black log burner for sale, it is upright and as purchased with full instructions booklet.  12 Kw output with a 5 star rating and takes up to  50cm long logs.  Its dimensions are 125 cm high and 26 cm wide, currently retailing at 899 euros.  Sale price 580 euros ono, buyer to collect from Puylagarde.  For further information or to to view please call 06 30 00 32 20.

Good old Banksy

Hi Val and Malcolm

A little more joy is about to enter the joyless lives of the migrants. Bravo Banksy!
Love, Sally C.

Sad news from Liberte des Anes

Hi Val
It is with a heavy heart that i have to tell you Christina passed away on Friday.  She had battled
against pancreatic cancer for over a year, in and out of hospital but eventually her body couldnt 
cope any longer.

She was an incredible person, a vet in her working life, had great knowledge to make an amazing 
garden from scratch and as you all know she was also a marvellous cook.  She cooked for you all 
and every meal i think that you enjoyed here was perfect.

She also looked after some 17 old horses who had been sent prematurely to the butchers yard, 
these we have placed together with her 22 tortoises, some tortoises she had owned for 30 years.  
Here at Lavolvene we have collected her last three donkeys and three ponies which she wanted 
to keep until the end.

When we spoke last her main concern was that our fundraising lunches should continue so i will 
write to you again in mid October to announce the date of our next lunch which i think will be 
sometime during the week begining 19 october.  I am sorry not to have entertained you all during 
the summer months, i just couldnt find the enthusiasm and it didnt seem right to be enjoying a lunch 
here when she was so poorly !

Thanks for your support as always, its really appreciated here, especially now as we have six more 
donkeys/ponies to feed...


They live in our community, Sid with the hat and Laura with the smile.

What amazing people says Anne Butson
Incredible couple, I am so proud of them says Caroline Mills
Elly Wright says, you are amazing Sid and Laura
Jane Louise Pascoe says, absolutely amazing, they are both doing a fantastic job.

Who could they be talking about but Sid with the hat and Laura with the smile.
Taglines readers are PROUD of you both.
Comments to

A couple in front of le monument aux morts at Septfonds 1923

Thanks to Jean Marc Labarta
Comments to

Nadine Morano: is she right or merely barmy?

Nadine Morano is a Euro deputy representing Les Republicains (Sarkozy party), but is becoming famous for her "foot-in-mouth" remarks. Her latest contribution to the debate was to say that France is a country of the white race. That may strike a chord with many of more or less racist views, but ignores the Article 1 of the constitution which makes it clear that observation of republican values of Liberte, Fraternite, Egalite is what is required, regardless of origin, race or religion. And bien sur the decision of that white race to occupy large swathes of the black races' African territory is ignored.

Mme Morano also recently suggested that the Syrian refugees should have stayed to fight, an argument often heard, ignoring the 250000 deaths and she wondered what would have happened if the French had done that in 1940. Of course that ignores the fact that France decided to surrender and about 8 million "migrated" from the occupied north to the unoccupied so-called free zone. The perennial denial of collaboration or acquiescence by the majority of French people seems always to be out-weighed by those who became resistants, rather than those who fled abroad to join the allied armies.
You can see more Moreno quotes

Bonne lecture
comments to

Agricultural equipment has its dangers

Living deep in the country we often hear or see accidents with tractors and in fact a next door neighbour when we lived at Le Presbytere was killed in a farming accident with machinery.
I have been known to have the odd dangerous moments on my auto portée/ sit on mower.
Un grave accident de travail est survenu hier après-midi vers 15 h 00 sur la commune d'Escoussens, lieu-dit Lespinas.

A deafening silence

The provision of hearing aids in France (and the UK - we don't know?) is famously expensive. UFC-Que Choisir - French equivalent of Which? - has investigated the firms offering audio prostheses and believe that margins are up to 450% the price at which the devices are bought.
There is a shortage of specialists, but this is partly caused by the industry's practices making it difficult for newcomers to enter the profession. Profits are also generated by maintenance contracts and finance packages.
The association representing the profession has made no comment, but the minister for health has promised to look into it.
comments to

And today our Thomas is 18

Our nephews have been coming on holiday here since before they were born. Here a photo at Laguepie years ago, Malc did the blurbs, the sentence cut off says " who's pumped?"
Today the eldest Tom is 18.
Happy birthday to you Tom.
Comments to

Nous sommes le mardi vingt neuf septembre

Hae you tidied out drawers and cupboards for warm clothes and bedding for Calais? We certainly have done but we also have lots of things such as hanging lights, ornaments childrens games. A friend Nadette Curato works for the Croix Rouge here at St. Antonin. One of the things the Red Cross does is feed and clothe people on the breadline here, and in our priviliged position we tend not to know there are people like this on our doorstep.
On Saturday I am going very early to Espinas to donate some of these unwanted item to the stall of the Croix Rouge at the vide grenier . If you have not got items to take perhaps you could find something to buy from them when you are browsing about.
The poor of all nationalities are always with us.
Comments to

Monday, 28 September 2015

House for sale near Cordes

This very pretty house was one we considered during our abortive search for a replacement for here.
For more details click on the image in the side bar.
enquiries to

When wIll they ever learn?

Trouble in wine paradise as Bordeaux village grapples with cancer rates five times national average

Report in village inside Sauternes appelation "cannot exclude" possible link between child cancer rates five times the national average and pesticides sprayed yards from local school.

They need to be reimbursed for the wood

Laura and Sid are just a hard working couple in our community. They have an eco / bio gite and love their garden. They are giving up two weeks of their time to help others. Sid has building skills which he can pass on, Laura, well she obviously has management skills.
They are such good hearted people they drove their bus full of donated clothes and bedding to Calais and now are buying building materials on their credit card, with the promise that I  and others can mobilise people within the community to stump up the cash to cover their bills.
If you like Malc and I wish you could do more to help in this grave and sad crisis, the worst that has been seen since the second world war ( and these refugees are escaping war)then send me your money.
Make cheques payable to Laura Havard
or you can give money to Gina Connolly at Parisot Library
or Michelle Jones in St. Antonin
Governments should be doing this ... you are right. But thank God there are people like Laura and Sid who are up for the challenge.
Comments to

Another post showing how amazing this couple are.

Hi Val, 
Wow, what a day. The middle of the night was spent planning how to perfect a production line & we did it... There are now 5 teams building frames, volunteers supervising to begin with, we bought alot of saws, hammers & buckets this morning so that each helper has their tools - to the refugees helping this is a massive incentive. We've made a deal, build for a week & get a shelter... Ates or Bash as we've nicknamed him had recruited by 9am more than 10 refugees to help, they have moved their tents into a circle around the construction site with all the materials in the middle so they can be kept an eye on. The soup kitchen for the workers is up & running - we have a happy multi lingual workforce, well fed, well clothed with responsibility & self pride growing by the minute, people power - this is what it's all about & i tell you what it's growing so fast - such exciting stuff. Met some amazing volunteers today, people with focus & initiative. Daily deliveries of wood have been arranged, so no more time wasting in that direction, our target is 10 shelters a day, if, when we leave, the set up is running as smoothly as we think it will be that means 2000 refugees will be housed within 2 months. Leaving was going to be tomorrow morning but is now Friday... we just can't drag ourselves away.... Great day, great things, great thanks to all who have donated so far. Laura & Sid x
Oh yes, forgot to say, we have got a pump for the puddle by the tap & hardcore coming for the road...

These two are the salt of the earth

H i Val
No 1 We admire a shelter beautifully lined & so spotlessly clean 
No 2 Childrens bedroom in the shelter next door, total simplicity & cleanliness abound.
No 3 Yesterday these taps were in the mud, today, thanks to Bens brilliance they are now user friendly, you cannot imagine how happy people were.
No 4 Sid showing Ben the finer aspects of shelter building late in the day on the construction site
Val says :- I am PROUD to known this couple
Comments to

Vide Grenier and theatre at Espinas this week end

Origine : Syndicat d’Initiatives Espinas

Objet : Rappel Fête d’Automne ( théâtre et vide-grenier)

Corps de l’article :

Le Comité des Fêtes et le Syndicat d’Initiatives vous rappelent deux dates à ne pas oublier : samedi 3 octobre et dimanche 4 octobre à Espinas (82) théâtre le 3 à 2h30 ; 6 ; gratuit scolaires ( primaire et collège)soupe à l’oignon offerteaprès ; dimanche 4 de 8h à 18h vide-grenier de particuliers; 2.50€ le mètre.Nous sommes heureux d’accueillir cette année un stand au profit de la Croix-Rouge de Saint Antonin : merci de lui réserver un peu de votre temps.Inscriptions avant le vendredi 2 sur ou au  

Jam session at Parisot friday

Jam session at the Café bar at La Maison cafe / bar at Parisot. Friday evening at 19.00h
Comments to

Help to clean the river in St. Antonin

Bonjour à toutes et tous,

Et oui, on remet ça!! Venez nous rejoindre pour notre traditionnel nettoyage des berges et lit de l'Aveyron. Samedi 3 octobre, le rencard est pris! Rendez vous en fin de matinée à la base Acti Eaux Vives à St Antonin Noble Val avec votre pique nique que nous mettrons en commun puis départ pour notre mission en canoë ou à pied! Diffusez l'info!! A très bientôt
Eloïse et fred
 Acti Eaux Vives
Marsac bas
82140 Saint Antonin Noble Val

A comic from Quebec at Laguepie


Avec la fin de l'été, les Rencontres Culturelles de Laguépie vont reprendre !
Dans le cadre de sa tournée française, nous sommes heureux de vous inviter à découvrir le spectacle de l'humoriste québécois, Serge-Yvan Bourque :

Salle des fêtes de

Glorious views

Good morning Val & Malc

Firstly, glad the house issue is sorted.

I stood out in the garden from 0400 this morning. The sky was amazing & the moon was indeed bloody - spectacular sight. I took some photos, but knew you would get good ones from Nev, as always, so didn't bother sending mine.

Have a great day. Probably like me, you are high above the mist!?

K high up in the Bosc

Another photographed the moon

Hi Val
As you probably know there was also a total lunar eclipse last night.  My photos are not up to Nev’s standard but managed this one at about 3.30 a.m.  Unfortunately the mist was rising where we live so it was difficult to get a sharp focus.
Glad your housing worries are over.

Raising money for Cancer research

Dear Val,

So thrilled to hear your news about Mas De Sol.     I just wondered if you would kindly put this notice on taglines for Michelle Fitzsimmons who is holding this coffee morning in aid of cancer.

See you soon.
Love Judy


Coffee Morning Book Fair
Saturday 31st October, 10am-2pm
At Bozat, Sainte Cecile du Cayrou

Come along and have a chat with friends, enjoy freshly brewed coffee and home-made cakes, and go away with cakes and a free bag of books!*

A wide variety of books in English and in French,
for you and for your guests -
cookery, novels, coffee table books, gardening, hard back, paperback, First Editions (who knows?!) …

Bring a friend, browse and relax, and contribute to charity at the same time.
Put whatever you want to in the pot for the books or the cakes you choose,no set prices, it’s up to you.


*just buy a cup of coffee for whatever you feel like contributing to the pot, and take a mystery bag of books home free.  

All profits will go to Entente Cordiale Gaillacoise, raising money for cancer research in Toulouse.

Bloody super moon

Dear Val and Malcolm,

Bloody Super Moon

For those who were fast asleep in bed cuddling their loved ones be it a person, cat or dog, I woke at 4:30am and bleary-eyed, wandered outside to take a photo of the blood moon.  There are two photos;the first is where it is still glowing white in the bottom corner and the second where it is nearly all red.  Unfortunately, as it was high in the sky, the super moon effect provided by the moon goddess was not really noticeable.  For those not in the know about the super moon effect, this is a quote from the BBC Website:  A super moon occurs when the Moon is in the closest part of its orbit to Earth.

Dear Val and Malcolm and readers
Nev says: Thanks for the nice comments of the moon pictures and its a pleasure that you enjoy seeing them.

Comments to

Mind what you shout

Four young girls (aged 11 and 12) were fined by municipal police in Toulon (Var) for shouting the word "ara" in a public park. Apparently the word is used by gang lookouts to warn drug sellers that the police are in the vicinity.
The girls denied that they knew the meaning of the word and were just having fun. Article R623-2 of the penal code makes disturbing the peace by shouting subject to a fine of 68 euros. The policemen said they had been subjected to insults, but the girls will not have to pay as they are too young to be subject to the law.
comments to

Just over the border

Yesterday evening the result of the poll in a corner of Spain, Catalonia voted for independance. A personal victory for Artur Mas who led the party for independant Catalans. A french story only in the way that borders touch France and many of us go to the Costa Brava and Barcelona for small breaks.
The last two times we have stayed in our lovely hotel at Llafranc we have commented on Catalan flags everywhere and the hotel staff quite unpromted told us " we are not Spanish but Catalan" 
I wonder why there is such a rise in Nationalism everywhere, eg.  Scotland,  and now Spain, where to be fair the Basque country having been fighting for Independance for years.
I am sure someone will tell me?

More and more arrive

Hi Val, 
Another long day, sun shone thank goodness & as we left the camp there was the most fantastic & enormous full moon rising, we could see the coastline of England from the motorway on the drive back to our lodgings. We spent the day laboriously moving the production line to a large empty area & did many distribution runs between the warehouse & the camp. A lot of people arrived last night many with no shoes, so shoes + cooking pots, bowls & spoons were top of the list. We bought in van after van load of blankets which we bagged up intending to walk around & distribute them but we never got further than 50 ft from the van before the bags were empty. The disorganization of the distribution is intense.  Thankfully the Emmaus came into "The Jungle" today & did fantastic work with lines of trestle tables out full of boxes of clothes & shoes but we realised how awful the situation here is when we gave away our lunch to guys that hadn't eaten for 24 hours & didn't know where to find food, sadly other than a few tins of soup neither did we, this may sound unfair to the people who are trying their best to manage a situation of chaos but this happened & it is not necessary, in their defence though i will say that the influx is vast & growing every day, the logistics are a nightmare.

More from Laura, Sid is always with the hat

Hi Val
more photos

No 1 A badly sited tap creates a big problem when, as the mud rises, the taps which are used for hair & face washing, washing up, filling containers with water, clothes washing etc are only about 15cm above the filth, today carpenter Ben who joined the team yesterday started building a platform to lift the whole lot out of the murk & create a cleaner area, next we need a pump... 
No 2 Part of the carpentry team, Sahid in the middle is from Iran, he is a lovely chap, speaks very little English, tonight he showed us pictures of his wife & grown up daughter. I have to say that it hit us all hard seeing photo's of such a happy, prosperous family one of whom is now sadly living in a refugee camp, so many innocent people, so much tragedy...
No 3 The warehouse, Every day we do several runs in the van & fill up with shoes, clothes, blankets, cooking pots etc which we take to the camp. People are trying their best but stuff is far too slow to get from here to the camp, by sheer force of character we have got around the distribution system & are amongst the very few people who have free access to distribute as we feel right.
No 4 For a growing operation we needed a new bigger carpenters camp & here it is. Ates whom we mentioned had lost all his id so cannot go home to London has been made foreman & has a growing team of solidarity behind him from a multi lingual workforce - he is a clever man, as well as being a carpenter he speaks fluent Turkish & Arabic as well as English & French, an asset to any community.

Nous sommes le lundi vingt huit

It is not hard waking up to the realisation we are staying here! ( yipee!) The weather is great for gardening and after two of us working away yesterday the grounds of both houses are looking good. We feel as if we have wasted 2 months of our lives messing about trying to sell. At least we know we have two good working fosse and meet all the expertise for no asbestos, lead,termites, and electricity meeting standards.
One thing we did discover looking around, the only thing we lack is a walk in shower in our house, and we will use the study to make an ensuite bedroom with walk in shower and extra toilet.
 The two houses will then boast 6 toilets... you never know when you will be caught short!
Thanks to all friends who have emailed to say " hooray you are staying" much appreciated.
Comments to

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Martin St.Martin and refugee benefits concert

Hi Val.
I was sitting with Martin yesterday discussing future events and he raised with me if there was any news of the benefits concert he had offered to you.
The concert for Entente Cordiale Gaillacoise in the Abbey Saint Michel gardens raised a total €4745 on the evening after expenses of buying food that was sold and the SACEM fees.
If we can help with organising, publicity posters etcetera please let me know.
May be we can get together a few other singers who can join Martin on stage.
Look forward to hearing from you.
Kind regards
Val says sorry we have been so tied up with the possible house move that for 3 weeks, we have done nothing but have fosse and expertise tested and sorted, spent days house hunting. Now that is all behind us we can get back to some serious fund raising. I will be in touch.
Comments to

Autumn book sale for dog rescue and Cancer research

Dear Val,
I’m very happy for you !  Staying where you know you are happy is much better than taking a risk and having regrets.  It seems also that it was meant to be.
Could I ask you to put out the word for our Autumn Book Sale to be held on Saturday 24th October 10am to 4pm at the St. Pantaleon (Lot) Salle de Fetes.  This is a NEW location for us.  St. Pantaleon is a very small village five minutes from Montcuq in the Cahors direction, or to Montcuq in the other direction.  There will be the usual great selection of books /dvd’s at 1 euro each plus our famous fabulous home made cakes.  Because of the new location where we will have more under cover space, as well as tea/coffee and yummies, we will be offering light lunch snacks of soup and rolls / quiche and salad.
As always every penny earned goes to dog rescue and cancer research.  The latter especially dear to us at the moment as our own special Domestic Cake Goddess is very seriously ill and another friend is going through a really tough time.  So we want to make this sale our biggest and best.
If anyone has books or dvd’s to donate, they can contact me and I will arrange to meet or collect.  I will be away on our annual week on Il de Ré from 3rd to 10th October and will be out of email contact during that time, but if people can get in touch with me asap I can organise everything.
Thanks Val,
Sue x

Sébastien Bras, the chef likes the name Occitanie

The top chef Sébastian Bras likes the name Occitanie for our newly formed region. Just in case that name is picked for non French speakers it is pronounced "Oxitan"
I can imagine some Brits going about saying we live in Occitanie, saying "ockitany"which would really grate on the French and the English who are learning the language.

J'ai choisi le terme d'Occitanie tout simplement parce qu'il fait résonner ma corde sensible,  so says Sébastian Bras.
Comments to

plant and garden show today

Hi Val
collecteurs plant show today at Villeneuve sur Vere, good weather guaranteed.

Comments to

The latest from Laura

Hi Val, 
Been a splendid day, a whole team of builders turned up & we got a production line going, a real self help production team with refugees getting their hands on tools, the aim being to empower them to build their own houses. A lot of people were so happy to be given the chance to do something - after all - it must be pretty boring being a refugee, no home to care for, no garden, no shopping or day trips, just a pretty endless existence spent queuing for your every need, waiting around for paperwork, queuing to fill your bucket with water or to use a foul toilet ( no more than 40 here for 5000 people) you have to queue for your daily bag of food or for a blanket because it's rained, your tent has leaked & you have nothing dry to sleep under, a lot of pointless hanging about, so, yes some very happy lads out there tonight. Finished the day doing runs to the warehouse & back to distribute shoes & blankets, an army of people has arrived in the last 2 days, many from Iraq with either no shoes, flip flops, shoes with soles hanging off, or a big foot squeezed into a small shoe to such an extent that half the foot is hanging out... Once again - some of the best people we've met in our lives. A massive litter picking team came from London this morning so the place is momentarily spotless - that mixed with the warm sunshine made everything look ok... Just a couple of pics, 1 of the view from a new shelter, the church is in the background, a tall canvas & wooden structure, the 2nd of a happy building group from Somalia. 
Love Laura & Sid x
Val says you can now pay Gina Connolly at Parisot Library and as always Michelle Jones in St. Antonin

Nous sommes " staying here on the dimanche vingt sept septembre

What a day for decisions yesterday, I woke up to a wonderful sunny day and said to Malc " I do not want to leave here We talked about it through the day and decided in truth we had not seen anywhere we wanted to live other than here... but how to tell the couple who had offered to buy.

At 11.30pm we received this email
Dear Val and Malcolm,
In the last thirty six hours our world has completely changed as a result of serious problems we have learned about affecting our family in England. It is clear that we had not been given information by them due to the perception that it would affect our start to life in France. They were right. Whilst there is nothing we can do in the most immediate, it is not viable for us to remain in France as things stand. As we write this it is hard to imagine a time when we might feel in  a position to return.
I'm afraid we're consumed by our own feelings including, of course, the loss of the opportunity to buy your lovely home in a part of France which we think is very beautiful. Your property was a close match to what we needed; with the considerable bonus of it being owned by people we like, respect and trust. Despite our preoccupation with our own situation we are mindful of your loss in what has happened, in the sense that you were quickly starting to pave the way for your own change in life. It would be surprising if you do not sell Your house very quickly and we are extremely sad not to be the purchasers. We now have to find somewhere to rent in England and make arrangements to return.
We think of you affectionately and thank you for the kindness and honesty which you showed us and for being such a nice couple. 
With love and best wishes,
N and N
Val says
Friends and neighbours know we were having second thoughts, but it will be a" big job" letting everyone else know we are taking the house off the market and staying.
We will let the gite from time to time to repeat renters and friends and maybe have a few days holiday in there ourselves. There are some wonderful views from the terrace. We do hope the people who wanted to buy resolve their family problems  but for us it was a way out.

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Spiced Cuisine at the book swap

Dear all
 Spiced Cuisine will next be at St Antonin-Noble-Val on Monday 5th October. Please go straight and let us have your orders before Friday 2nd October.
 We look forward to seeing you there.
 Sara & Sharon
Spiced Cuisine

A Fine Line, just up my street at FET Les Cabannes

I so enjoyed tonights performance by Judith Paris, performing the words of Ronnie Dorsey.
So embroiled and enthralled was I in the " talking heads" type story, that I had tears in my eyes as the evening ended.
I loved the story of the now elderly lady reliving her life, not really knowing she was a lesbian, but knowing love of her  girl friend all her life. I was not sure of Malc's reaction but I think he enjoyed it as much as I. It was down to earth, as life is and one felt it could be anyone's story. We worked through the sadness of losing a child, her mother's wanting her daughter to marry, " you are nothing without a man" and that certainly was a sentiment 50 years ago of many mothers. The marriage of her friend and the closeness of the two women as the husband had affair after affair. Later I wondered if perhaps the errant man knew his wife had feelings for her friend and this was his way of coping with rejection to his manhood.
All in all a lovely interesting evening and a night where I felt as after most shows " I love theatre"
Malc wanted to rush home for the rugby so we did not stay to hear the poems read by the author of the play. Shame.
Comments to

Cakes for Calais Sunday Oct 4th 12 till 4

 Hi Val

Roll up, roll up, cakes for Calais at the home of Michelle Jones in St. Antonin. Cakes baked will be welcomed. All proceeds raised to go to Sid and Laura who are building temporary shelters for the needy at Calais, concentrating it would appear on housing pregnant ladies and young children.
Michelle lives just before the Guinguette de la plage car park on chemin du Baton in  st. Antonin.
Venez, venez cakes pour Calais.

Val says there will be an opportunity at Parisot Library soon to donate money for Sid and Laura. We have sent photos of the work to Gina Connolly and she will make a display and collect.
Comments to

The book swap will be as normal Monday October 5th

 The first  Monday in the month is the book  and DVD swap and also a chance to get a delicious meal  you have ordered from Spiced Cuisine.
 The last books brought have all been sent to Festilitt and will be there for the GRAND BOOK SALE. I am sure as many as possible will go for the novelists talks and of course to buy books.

The book swap will as always be at 10.30 am at the  Gazpacho in St. Antonin. Look forward to seeing you then and I will give another reminder nearer the time.
Comments to

A dog now needing a new owner. ADOPTED

This is another sad dog story, which means  Jango through no fault of his own needs a new master or mistress or both. Jango belongs to our wonderful Laetitia our young  friend and cleaner. Sadly in the last six  months she and her partner have separated. Laetitia who to make ends meet with a little eight year old daughter works all the hours God sends. ( funny expression, wonder why I used that?)
The house she has bought has no garden attached so poor Jango is locked in the house most of the day on his own. Imagine that for a big dog who is used to a large fenced garden. The dog is loved and is very used to children, he just needs some walks and some attention which with change of circumstances Laetitia cannot now give.
He is nearly a year old, pucced, vaccinated and castrated. Has no issues with dogs, cats or turtles. 

If you would like to know more contact French speaking Laetitia
Or if an  English speaker  Val at

jango né le 26 octobre 2014 il est pucé vacciné et castré s'est un chien adorable qui a besoin d'espace pour se depanssé et de calin merci pour lui 

As we drove down to Varen...

... the chateau of Belpeche stood out of the mist like a beacon. Malc took this photo and I must admit he spotted the branch as we drove down the lane and I had to back the car up for him to capture the picture. I think it was worth it.

Hi Val
How very son Ollie took the very same shot!

Comments to

Book for Festilitt

Dear Val,

I see from TAGLines that someone was having difficulty reserving for Festilitt and I wondered if you would mind posting a link to the reservations page for us?

This page has big icons for each of the four events which are by reservation only - the Festival Dinner, Greg Mosse’s short story writing workshop and the talks by Helen Dunmore and Kate Mosse.  Underneath each of these icons is an orange ‘Book now’ button which you just need to click on and it takes you to the online booking system.  If anyone has any problems they can email and we will get back to them within 24 hours.
Thank you for your help Val. 
With kind regards, 

Comments to