Saturday, 31 October 2015

Full to the ceiling

Hi Val

Well I think this could be called full to the ceiling! Fortunately Mimi arrived yesterday & took 6 bicycles with her which she'll bring up when she meets us & Caroline came & filled her car up - again to meet us up there. Just got to clean the bathroom before our house sitters arrive & we leave!
Final count up reveals that the locals have between them raised a grand total of e3170 of which e2740 was raised for this trip. What an absolutely incredible amount. Well done to everyone who has been so very, very generous both financially & materially. Just awesome. We also have 5 people from the local community who have volunteered their services to help over the next week or so which is wonderful.
I will send photo's from the camp as often as possible, it will be more difficult than last time as we wont have wifi but i'm sure we can sort something out.
Thank you so much Laura & Sid

 Val says just had an email offering another 50 euros and I will 
be taking a begging bowl wherever I go now so that you can pay for building materials without worry. Great that we have 5  local volunteers to help up there.
Well done chums, humanity will prevail

Our next opera is in two weeks time.

Val says we have been a bit thrown by the moving/ not moving fiasco but we are now planning our next evening on  Wednesday November 18th. It is going to be Manon Lescaut by Puccini, The Royal opera House with Jonas Kaufman.
We have seen Manon with Natalie Dessay.
Bookings now being taken.
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The road up to Mas del Sol strewn with russet leaves

A  lovely drive whatever the season
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Do not be fooled this witch is scary

You think she looks frightening now, just wait, we bought some orange hair and face highlighters whilst  in Whitby. By the time this is applied  this little witch will be ready for trick or treating in Henley. Any local witches to mention?
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TOF report on new Varen restaurant by Sarah

Clicking on my ipad

Fabulously warm this morning I wandered round the village with my ipad. We sat in the shade at the Moulin having our café allongées and all was right wth the world ( well our part of it this morning)
The apples on the market were all from the Tarn, which is why I photographed them.
Coments to

Is it affecting viewing figures?

Our daughter Sam asked, " is your campaign to aid refugees affecting TAG viewing figures?"
Well I am happy to report figures are holding firm, many people are concerned about refugees even if they do not actually want them to go to the Uk. Impossible not to be affected by the biggest humanitarian crisis in our life time.
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Fries with that?

Customers at a Macdonald's Drive Through (cannot bring myself to write "thru") near Lyon were asked if they wanted a joint of marijuana with their order, or perhaps a line of coke instead of a large drink. Staff's after work parties were fuelled by drugs and alcohol and soon regular customers were aware that their supplies of recreational drugs could be ordered at the window and collected with hamburger and fries.
Not all staff were happy with this and brought it up at a staff meeting. Management decided to act and six months later, after due notice was given, 8 employees were sacked. Customers now can enjoy their morning snack without the smell of alcohol and cannabis - is the scent of fries any improvement we ask.
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Pricking all our conscience

A  French reader thanks me for continually reminding you that as we continue our happy and blessed lives that many others are still suffering deprivations so severe that many are now dying.
I was brought up a Christian and  still hold on to all those values taught as a youngster, parables of the good samaritan learnt at Sunday school stay with me even though I now reject religion.
What I do not reject is caring for others regardless of race or religion.
Laura and Sid are going with a full bus of food, bedding and clothes on Sunday but what they really need is money for building materials. We have sold items around the house and raised 75 euros last time. Just checked with Malc and we can afford another 50 euros to give them. Please consider yet another donation and contact me Val   to pledge an amount. Laura and Sid will  go and buy using their credit card but we must help cover these costs.
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Lot of trouble for chestnuts

The chestnut harvest in the Lot has been about 50-80% down as a result of a parasite. The tiny insect lays eggs in the blossom of the trees, which react by creating a type of scab around the bud. This has the inevitable effect of preventing the development of the nuts. The growers in the department first noticed this in 2012 and since then yields have been going down.
Treatment is available, but will be 6/7 years before any impact is felt.
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Dogs head stuck down a sofa for an hour

Happily released after an hour by fireman, the dog was not harmed!! Yes this was on the BBC news this morning whilst thousands of refugees are suffering and dying in Greece, with no mention.
Do not tell me it is not a crazy world!
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Fête de la Citrouille

The new small restaurant at Lexos

Gareth Brown 's photographs of the new restaurant at Lexos. I think it is in the building where the second hand clothes shop was.
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Nous sommes le samedi trente et un octobre

All hallows day today, halloween. Tomorrow is Toussaint all Saints day.
Amazing how Halloween has taken on a life of its own, France and the UK full of witches ghouls and  pumpkins.
Commets to

Friday, 30 October 2015

A new restaurant at Lexos

Who has been or is going and can do a TOF report?

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Otley aid worker could face jail for smuggling 4-year-old back to family

Rob Lawrie tried to smuggle four-year-old Bahar from the infamous Jungle refugee camp in Calais to relatives in Leeds after her father pleaded with him to take her in his van.
He persuaded a Yorkshire aid volunteer to try to take her to family in Leeds - Rob Lawrie's now due in court for this - he will appear in January in Boulogne charged with smuggling.
He admits his crime and was arrested at the border.
Val says
Rob is known to many of us working to help at Calais. He has spent weeks making  the lives of refugees better building houses and delivering clothes, shoes and food gathered from supporters in the UK.
His MP gave the report below.
The plight of this girl does highlight the failure of the Government to do enough to assist refugees, including children who are desperately trying to find somewhere they can be safe. It is time that the Government and local authorities matched the willingness and compassion shown by millions of British people who are doing what they can to assist those fleeing conflict, unimaginable conditions and persecution.

Val says  it was an act of compassion  trying to take the young child out of the Calais jungle,but one must stay within the  law,even when the law is an ass. I am sure we will hear more of this story  and Rob Lawrie


Hi Val

This stands for the Office National de la Chasse et de la Faune Sauvage.
I had never heard of this until today. The officers are known as environment police and one of their functions is to control hunting, hunting licenses and so on.
They have a website which is very informative and even has an English page describing what they do:
They have no shame in describing how hunting is carried out against such things as blackbirds and song thrushes.
You can also look up useful stuff such as when hunting is going to start in your département.
They also publish statistics about hunting accidents and deaths each season but what they don’t say is how many were alcohol related.  Today at lunch at the Gazpacho were two ONCFS officers in their smart grey uniforms which include a pistol on the belt.  Needless to say they had a few glasses of wine.  I was told by the patron that they carry guns because it could be dangerous work because hunters carry weapons !
Imaging the repercussions if an armed English policeman was seen drinking on duty.
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Halloween at Caylus

Samedi 31 Octobre à Caylus
14h atelier de maquillage à la salle des associations.
16h 30 chasse aux bonbons dans le village
22h  bal disco à la salle des fêtes.  Entrée 2 euros

Varen in Autumn, our village

So beautiful our village whatever the season. The river Aveyron flows through,and in the distance the chateau and ancient church
Photo by Gareth Brown
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Remember to use local libraries

Brilliant young actor, great humanitarian

Benedict Cumberbatch has raised so far over 100,000 pounds for refugees by appealing to his audiences at the end of his West End show, Hamlet.
 His quote " f*ck the politicians let us get raising money"
I could not have said it better myself.
Send money to Laura and Sid or to charities supporting refugees at Lesvos where adults and children are dying and thousands have no warm clothes or food. The aid agencies are struggling to cope with the enormity of the problem.
Keep up the good work Benedict
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Cornish pasties in Sanvensa

Hi Val and Malc – welcome back.
This is not quite a TOF report but yesterday we tasted the most delicious home-made Cornish Pasties made by a charming young woman Sarah who has recently come to live near Sanvensa with her children.
She had small ones which would be perfect for apéros.
Maybe you would like to contact her for more information.
All the best

Val says is it me or does it sound as if the lady has small children for aperos ?
Love cornish pasties, I will be in touch.

Spot Ruby, pet of the month

Hi guys, another swift update. On Herself..

Happy and well. Loves her Tennis Ball, sometimes too much. lol

And,,,,, was Pet of the month in my local paper back home. Page attached. Tavistock Times 29.10.2015 edition.

I hope all is well.

Trevor Gliddon
NCTJ  NCE (Senior Photo Journalist) LRPS (Deja Views Photography)
0033 06 30 67 87 67 (Portable)

Look at that blue sky

Back home ready for the Toussaint weekend. Brilliant sunshine and forecast for the next couple of days at least. We know why we are happy here.
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TOF usually gets it right, this review did not

An amateur French restaurant reviewer has been fined several thousand euros after writing a scathing take on a local eatery which had not even opened yet.
The review said the Loiseau Des Ducs restaurant in Dijon was “overrated, it was all show with very little actually on the plate, and the only thing well-stocked was the plate which carried the bill”.In an order on 6 October, Dijon’s high court ordered the reviewer, who has not been named, to pay €2,500 (£1,800) in compensation to the restaurant and €5,000 in costs, according to Le Monde.But the restaurant’s owner noticed the Yellow Pages review had been written by a reviewer calling themselves “The Clarifier” on 11 July 2013, several days before the restaurant had officially opened, a local newspaper, Le Bien Public, reported.
“We wanted to pursue this case because it is a lesson to people who write these reviews in order to destroy,” the restaurant’s owner, Ahlame Buisard, told the paper.
The bad review did little to affect the success of the restaurant, which received a Michelin star for its food in February 2014. Reviewers on TripAdvisor are more enthusiastic, with one calling it “the most amazing restaurant, with top-notch service”.
Val says interesting this, as we looked up all our restaurants on trip adviser and one had some great, some terrible reviews. We had a great meal and great service and ambience so these reports can be 
decidedly iffy. Even TOF reports get different views, fortunately we have never had reviews for a restaurant   before it opens.  comments to

nous sommes le vendredi trente octobre

On our way home, back to S W France, at the moment sitting in Heathrow airport.
The news of pets is all good, so now we are heading back to the sun! better check the meteo.
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Thursday, 29 October 2015

Ee, by gum, we had some fun

We are back in Henley now, packing again to be up at 4.30am to catch a flight to Toulouse tomorrow.
We have all been reminiscing on our travels and we all agree the funniest episode was at Robin Hoods Bay, where we went in to a pretty tea shop in a cobbled street in this ancient fishing village. The two ladies running it were hilarious. As we arrived one was giving the wrong change to a customer, who was pleading no, no please check. I only gave you 10 pounds, I do not need 20 pounds change!!
We all sat down and ordered our meals, when they came not one was right. Hot chocolate with out cream, all with cream, toasted sandwich not toasted, no scone which had been ordered. The elderly lady explained, she had been at the Doctors that morning and he was 5 minutes late and it had just thrown her. I was  very understanding and told her not to worry and she seemed to take a liking to me. After my meal she approached me with a large spoon and a bottle of vinegar. " I would  like you to try my home made vinegar" and  she poured a spoonful. I could think of nothing I would like less, but had a spoonful saying "very nice". Then said " I bet my husband would like to try!! " he had been behind  pulling faces.
Malc went to pay and said "I will pay for the table next to us as well. "She  replied Oh! you can't do that love, they have paid and left" Malc said " not the ones who left, the ones we sat talking to that are still here"  Do you really want to do that she said? There were only four tables in the place, two occuppied by us!
We were all by this time in fits of stiffled laughter, laughing all the way home.
We felt we were in a sitcom, perhaps with Mrs Overall.
Tomorrows TAG will be back in France
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Driving through Varen

Hi Val & Malc,
Guess what's in this trailer driving through Varen? :-)
The stray cat we found last week has found a home, she is going to live in Holland!
Hope you're well, Love, Anke
Val says so OK the stray cat is going to Holland...but I can see donkey ears in that trailer. Please explain?
Anke says  - and not just their ears, their whole bodies are in there! :-) Going grazing at Le Riols,.. quite a job, getting 8 donkeys into a cow trailer I can tell you!

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What a weekend at Parisot

What a weekend!

Kate Mosse, Ella Frances Sanders, Helen Dunmore, Clive Ponting, Sara Taylor and Deborah Lawrenson in Parisot last weekend.
Watch the highlights

Click on the picture to see a short video of the weekend's highlights

Indulge me with our wedding photos

Our lovely niece Su and new husband Myles. What a great day they had and we were there to share it.
Below, our lads the Barraclough boys. Going to their Mum's wedding was just more important than going to support the Boro playing Man United.
We won, rounding off a perfect day.
The connection to France ? This family have been coming once or twice a year to SW France for 14 years.
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British Corner shop orders

Hi Val
 Just to let you know, a group of us are getting together another British Corner Shop order early next month, including things people request at the Book Swap in St Antonin next Monday, 2nd November. Please let us know in the next 10 days or so if there are things you'd like yourself, however large or small, and we can then get everything delivered in good time. You can email us your order, you don't need to bring it along on Monday unless you prefer to. The "how to do it" information is below, as a reminder Best wishes Chris & Karen First step: go to the British Corner Shop web site and choose what you'd like. The address is You can ignore log-in; just click on Start Shopping or Shop Now and then browse products by brand or view by group or by category, or search for key words like "mint sauce", "custard powder", "gluten-free" etc. There's a huge range to choose from, including lots of fresh and chilled foods which come in refrigerated parcels. Second step: don't add anything to a Shopping Basket, but instead email us, or bring a note of what you've chosen, its brand, size and price, and your email address to the next Book Swap. There won't be anything to pay in advance. We share the cost of delivery between us all (it's rarely more than 5 or 6% of what we spend). And that's it! If you later find you are unable to pick up your order at the following Book Swap, we can make separate arrangements to get the goods to you. All chilled foods will stay refrigerated until you receive them.

Concert at La Seye et vous


Pour raison personnelle, le concert annoncé le vendredi 30 octobre est reporté au lendemain.
Donc samedi 31 octobre nous recevrons le duo T'AMBORELLA.
Merci de votre comphéhension.
Bonne soirée.

Le prochain concert à La Seye et vous, sera vendredi 30 octobre. A partir de 19h30 nous recevrons le groupe T'AMBORELLA. Avec AGNES VAN DE HEL au violon et ERIC BOCCALINI à la batterie et percussions, pour un tour du monde en musiques. Dans ce duo, cordes et peaux, danses sans bas, les sons sont beaux ! Ils rythment les corps, à fleurs de peau, mélodies d'or, riches en impro. Russe, irlandaise, latine, klezmer, orientale ou balkanique,T'AMBORELLA explore des univers colorés et délivre des musiques complices et enjouées ! Au menu : Goulash de porc ou tofu goulash et desserts. Renseignements : 05 63 65 22 18. N'hésitez pas à diffuser l'info. A trés bientôt.

Whisky tasting in St. Antonin

nous sommes le jeudi vingt neuf octobre

A lovely day yesterday for us all, the bride looked radiant. Tudor made a great speech with trousers in place. Today we travel back to Henley before flying home tomorrow. Rushpool Hall at Saltburn is a huge beautiful place but only has wifi in the main rooms. At the moment I am sitting half way up the stairs in my pyjamas. Not sure if I will get an opportunity later to continue with TAg. Comments to

A date for your agenda

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Cancer support spreads the word

Hi Val,
Judy Kent gave me your email address, I hope you don't mind me contacting you directly.
I think you know about our group, Cancer Support France, supporting English speaking people affected by Cancer here in France.
Our biggest aim is to spread the word and we are keen to find some new members who are willing to put up posters, distribute leaflets etc further into the Aveyron and Tarn et Garonne regions.  
We are planning to have a coffee morning in Saint Antonin on Tuesday 17th November and was wondering if you would know of people who might be interested in coming along to find out more information?  We just need a key few volunteers who have the time to go to doctor's offices, medical centres and perhaps occasionally to hand out leaflets if there is an event happening.
I am not sure if we should put it on taglines, as this is not a fundraiser or anything, just an information platform aimed at those who are seriously interested.  
Many thanks
Val says TAG is a big supporter of this group and urges everyone to go  for a coffee when arranged. Let us know the venue Caroline and I am sure many readers will come. Why not bring the calendar to sell?

Book swap Monday

Hi Val

Several people have asked if we can get together and put an order in to British Corner Shop, so that the goods arrive in time for Christmas.  We've said yes, we're very happy to organise that, so we'll be taking orders at the November Book Swap, and in the week or so afterwards.  The aim will be to bring the goods to the December one, a month later, but as a lot of people now order chilled stuff like pies, cheese and bacon, we try to get things to them sooner than that.

Also at the November Book Swap, we've brought over another very varied choice of packs of Christmas cards, which we're happy to pass on to book swappers for what we paid, if that's again OK with you and Malcolm.

x Chris & Karen

Val says

Both good Chris, many thanks for these two helpful enterprises.
Comments to 

Smile, you have been caught on camera

The government announced on Monday last that gendarmes on the streets will be issued with cameras. The idea has already been tested in Toulouse last year with positive results.
Le gouvernement a annoncé, lundi dernier, la généralisation des caméras-piétons sur l'uniforme des policiers. Ce dispositif avait été testé en 2014 à Toulouse.

Nous sommes le mercredi vingt huit octobre

Jour de marriage
We move today to Saltburn to Rushpool Hall to celebrate our niece's second marriage. We have had the future happy couple here at Whitby ... for fish and chips!
Today with her four boys from an earlier marriage and and a little girl Evie from her present relationship we will celebrate with all our families their future union and wish them continued happiness together.
Brother in law Tudor is giving the bride away ( for the second time, and says he must stop himself making jokes about her keep coming back!)
 We are more concerned about Tudor's trousers staying up. A family joke ( shared by TAG readers) after Tudor's adventures at airport security.
Such happy times weddings, do not tell me it is an outmoded institution.
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Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Grandma rules: Ok

Walking the streets of Whitby tonight on the way back from the restaurant I was slightly ahead of little Annie. I turned into the snickett (I was told when we arrived our house was up a snickett) I waited and when Annie arrived running after me I jumped out and shouted "boo, Dracula rises"
People in the street passing burst out laughing and Annie admitted" you got me Grandma"
Now this is after years of being " got"
I and Dracula, we had our revenge.
Comments to

Violent winds and storm possible tonight

Le vent continue de souffler sur le Grand Sud et Météo France a donc placé deux départements en vigilance jaune : la Haute-Garonne et le Tarn. Par ailleurs, les Hautes-Pyrénées, le Gers, l’Ariège, le Tarn-et-Garonne, le Lot-et-Garonne et l’Aveyron sont en vigilance jaune « orages » jusqu’à mardi soir.
Take care tonight, there could be a violent storm.

Saved his bacon

Rejoice, rejoice the 56 euros spent on sending Malc's knee charger by chrono post was worth it. Malc is now plugged in, charging.
Imagine not knowing the stories on TAG and just joining at this point!
Is the subbie bionic I can hear people ask?
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Hello Val, 

Langues Ensemble, our Language School in Saint-Antonin, is running an Intensive Beginners French Course for 4 weeks starting next Monday 3rd November

This course will provide an introduction and practice of the basics in French grammar and vocabulary, with plenty of speaking and listening practice. Students will have 2 X 2hr lessons per week, with two different teachers, and homework to complete between the lessons. 

The course is also suitable for students with some knowledge of French, who wish to revise the basics, and consolidate and practice what they have already learned.

Contact Colin Dehoux at for more information and enrolment.
Best wishes, 
Colin and Laetitia 
Comments to

A different view of Laguepie

The view taken by Bienvenue à Laguepie from the path up to the chateau, being pedantic it is from St Martin Laguepie.
Comments to

Maurice Chaudière, comme Pierre Rabhi

Chers amis, 
Retenez ces dates essentielles !
  • La librairie sera fermée du vendredi 30 au dimanche 1er novembre inclus. Oui, je sais, c'est triste, mais c'est pour mieux vous retrouver !
  • Maurice Chaudière (auteur de La Forêt FruitièreD'argile et d'abeillesLe goût du sauvage, etc.) nous fait le plaisir de venir nous parler d'apiculture alternativele 27 novembre prochain. Comme Pierre Rabhi, il s'agit d'un personnage important des approches alternatives de la nature...
  • Comments to

Autumn fruits by Elly Wright

Lovely picture Elly
coments to

Multi gym for sale

Dear Val
 Could you put this on Taglines please.
 Strength Master multi-gym with Pec-Master attachment for sale, 149 Euros.
 Martin Feeney
82220 Auty

Email: pourramond

A view of Whitby through the whale bone jaws

I have been trying to find a connection between Whitby and France but the best I can come up with is
the information on Whitby jet( the name jet coming from the old French)

What is Jet ?

Jet is a semi-precious gemstone of organic (i.e. it contains carbon) origin. The name is derived from the GreekLithos Gagates which translates as 'Stone of Gagas'. Gagas was a town in Asia Minor (Turkey). This name passed into old French as Jaiet, and into English as Jet. Jet was formed from wood that fell into stagnant water and which then became fossilised in much the same way as coal was made. The wood originally came from trees similar to the modern day Monkey Puzzle or Araucaria. The original 'wood-like' structure of Jet is revealed under the microscope, sometimes to the extent that the annual growth rings of the trees can be seen. Two types of Jet are generally recognised : soft and hard Jet. The former was probably formed under fresh water and the hard Jet in sea-water.
None of it anything to do with Malc's photo of Whitby.
Comments to

French pilots flee

Two French airline pilots sentenced to 20 years imprisonment in the Dominican Republic for involvement in the "Air Cocaine" smuggling scandal were released on bail pending appeal. They were smuggled out by another crew and have returned to France. Their lawyer claims that they are honourable men, ex-military, who were not trying to evade justice, but who will be examined by a French judge to obtain "fair justice".
Dominican Republic authorities will issue a statement next week.
comments to

Temporarily rehoming a refugee

Marcia Scott who is a councilor in Varen has attached a document from the Mairie explaining how to go about it if we wanted to give  temporary home to a refugee. Basically it needs to be done through an association. It is pages long and of course rather dull. I will let you know more when I find lists of associations.
On facebook I have joined a site called " Soutien aux réfugies Syrian " les trois cocus" Toulouse and they have in turn given a site " L'" who Malc has written to.
Comments to

Poorpaws Booksale

 Val says, well done Sue. These things do not happen without a lot of hard work, so a pat on the back
for you.
Wow !  You were wonderful, generous and you were great fun !  Thank you so much for supporting
 our Autumn Book Sale.  All my anxieties about the change of venue and clashing with the great 
Phoenix sale were unfounded, we had the best sale ever and made 2,000 euros which will be split 
between dog rescue and cancer research.
A couple of people have asked if it would be possible to group the books better, say by author,
 which we did the first ever sale but which got difficult as we got more and more books.  We have 
taken the suggestion on board and are hoping to do so next time.  Personally I like browsing to see 
what other treasures I find but as my mate Susie tells me, it’s not all about me !!!
Love you all and can Mrs. Cartwright get in touch, you won the raffle but the ‘phone number seems 
to be incorrect !!
Sue x Poorpaws

Nous sommes le mardi vingt sept octobre

Hi Val
I did the same thing when I was living in Italy when I was a young married and broke. It seemed one did not bring wine as a gift as a dinner party gift as it was so cheap and yet flowers seemed so unbelievably expensive, so I bought the only thing I could afford – a nice bunch of ‘mums.’ Oops.
 Cahuzac-sur-Vere, Tarn
Comments to

Monday, 26 October 2015

Thoughts from Espinas

Hi Val and Malc

What a lovely place to sojourn!! I can't help imagining that you might well encounter Mr Turner's ghost along some street  to the fishermen's boats - as he loved these sights. I guess you have seen some places that remind you of the biopic...
And, guess what ! Fish and chips is René's ultimate treat whenever he can have one, even at Varen restaurants. So, think of him next time someone tries to make you eat still another one! I love your posts about that place.

Besides, all your posts about Laura and partner are of the utmost neccesity to make people act! Allez les amis, encore un effort, jusqu'à ce que les gouvernements "se bougent" !

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We cannot just stand by and let people die

"There are thousands of children here and their feet are literally rotting, they can't keep dry, they have high fevers and they're standing in the pouring rain for days on end. You have one month guys, and then all these people will be dead".
Those were the final words of Dr Linda on the phone, a doctor that our volunteer organisations (Help Refugees and CalAid) had asked to fly out to Lesbos in response to an emergency cry for help from an overwhelmed volunteer on the ground.
The weight of those words and the responsibility that comes with them felt crippling. But why are we, a film maker, a radio presenter, and a music assistant being tasked with this responsibility? Shouldn't, as we had presumed, the large charities and governments be taking the charge of care for the precious lives arriving on Europe shores?
Another call came in - this time from volunteers in Serbia - the refugees are burning plastic bags to keep warm, they have nothing else, they are freezing to death, and the fumes from the bags are slowly poisoning them, please send help.

The work of Marc Kopil

Hi Val and Malc,

I noticed Marc Kopil was mentioned in a post regarding his beautiful cards. My partner bought one of his paintings for my birthday (a huge surprise) as I adore his work – didn’t think I’d be lucky enough to own one for a while though! His ‘Princesses’ (below) are a range of smaller paintings and a great gift for Christmas. He also does special requests...!cards/c1g0p

Spirits remain high, but the champagne is depleting

We appear to have found some really great house / pet sitters who send glowing reports of the pets each night. I will give everyone their contact details when we get home.
We are having a laugh in Whitby, we keep getting visitors who all come wanting fish and chips. The whole place is full of fish and chip shops and people come from  miles around for their lunch. We will be on our third fish and chip outing with different family members today, but we are rebelling now and have checked there are other dishes on the restaurant menu. It started well the fish and chip theme ... but just not possible everyday.
We were at a cafe in Sandsend this morning when Malc stood up and fell flat on his face, his knee has given up!! The lovely house we have rented is  on five levels and because the top floor has an ensuite that is where we are. To give you an idea the room is called " 199 steps" the same number as up to Whitby Abbey. We have yet to figure out how we will get Malc up there tonight. 
Crossfingers for us that the kneecharger arrives tomorrow. Spirits remain high and Malc was not hurt in his tumble although the two ladies he landed next to seemed amazed to have a good looking elderly gent throw himself to their feet.

Made us laugh

A central place to get your poppy and support the appeal

Hello Val,
 Hope all well with you and Malcom and that you got the charger in time.
 I was just wondering if you could put something on your blog relative to the Poppy Appeal.   I am collecting for the poppy appeal and poppies are available at the office in St Antonin.  I am sure lots of people would like to support the appeal and buy a poppy and may not know where to find one.
 Best wishes,
 Jane Smallwood
Agence l'Union
Place de la Halle
82140 St Antonin Noble Val

Film project dropped

François Hollande can breathe a sigh of relief. Plans for a film based on Valérie Trierweiler’s kiss-and-tell bestseller about her relationship with the president have been dropped, reportedly because no serious actress wanted the role of the jilted ex-first lady.
A leading Paris talent agent said producers had failed to find anyone considered suitable to play Ms Trierweiler, 50. Nicknamed “the Rottweiler” and notorious for her short temper, she is an unpopular figure despite the success of her memoir, “Thank You For This Moment”, which was last year’s top-selling book in France. It humiliated Mr Hollande by depicting the Socialist leader as a heartless womaniser who despised the poor and referred to them as “the toothless”.
Val say   she really has not proved to be a sympathetic, likeable lady, has she?     Comments to

Nous sommes le lundi vingt six octobre

Having given some  thought to the readers post on the treatment of a few people quietly remembering a dead friend at Gaillac, one remains shocked. None of us wants to be involved in trouble especially whilst just having an interesting day out. I imagine Susan felt quite  threatened, I know I would have been.
Similarly the gendarmes actions with fleeing  refugees around the country is well over the top in lots of instances. Inappropriate use of violence is scary, as is the rise of the far right here in France.
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Sunday, 25 October 2015

Pictures of the gendarmes

Hi Val
You are OK to publish photos of police doing their duty in a public place with some exceptions for counter-terrorism etc.
Please read this:
Un statut particulier pour certains policiers
D'après deux arrêts de la Cour de Cassation (le 25 janvier 2000 et le 20 février 2001), la diffusion d'images de policiers dans l'exercice de leur fonction est autorisée dès lors qu'elle illustre un événement d'actualité. Il n'est pas nécessaire de flouter les visages des personnes impliquées -comme acteurs, témoins, ou figurants-, si l'image est prise dans le contexte d'un évènement dont l'importance justifie qu'il soit communiqué au public.
Les policiers ne dérogent pas à cette règle dessinée par la jurisprudence, mais un arrêté du 27 juin 2008 apporte certaines exceptions : il faut notamment respecter l'anonymat des policiers chargés de la lutte antiterroriste, de la brigade de recherche et d'intervention criminelle, de la brigade de recherches et d'investigations financières ou encore du RAID. Qu'un particulier filme la police municipale en train de procéder à un contrôle d'identités n'est donc pas illégal.

You can read the whole thing here:
I hope you now feel happy to post the pictures as it is an important story (and a bit scary at the time).
Have a good time in England
Val say John's story is below and it does seem as if for 15 or so protesters the response was extrordinary. Glad Susan was not involved  but sad that the people remembering Rémy were treated this way.  Comments to

Sympathy for Nicholas Bonnemaison

A French doctor who gave lethal injections to seven terminally ill patients was given a two-year suspended sentence on Saturday after being convicted on poisoning charges.
The lenient sentence, announced after nearly seven hours of jury deliberations, reflected public sympathy for Nicolas Bonnemaison, a 54-year-old former emergency room doctor, who remained impassive, with his head lowered, as the verdict and sentence were announced.
Relatives of his patients had testified in his favour and some were tearful but obviously relieved by the lenient sentence. He was acquitted by a lower court last year but stood trial again after prosecutors appealed.
Val says I am in favour of lethal injections to terminally ill patients, we are kind to dogs in this position why would we not be kind to other humans suffering with no chance of recovery?  

In tribute to Rémi Fraisse

Dear Val

Late yesterday afternoon we went for a walk round the old part of Gaillac followed by a coffee sitting in the Place de la Libération in the centre of town, near the Monument aux Morts. 

A small group of about 10-15 people gathered and started to place ribbons around two trees with candles and hanging representations of trees, flowers, frogs and the like, from a cord suspended between the two trees in front of the monument.  A woman explained that it was a memorial to Rémi Fraisse, the 21 year old botanist who was killed a year ago tonight at the Sivens Dam protest.  She said that the actions of the gendarmes had been disproportionate to the protest and one of 30 stun grenades thrown by the gendarmes had landed between his rucksack and his back and killed him. She told us that so far no member of the gendarmerie has been charged with his death although stun grenades were withdrawn from the Gendarmerie Nationale that same day.

This was a quiet group of mostly young people making a peaceful homage to this young man’s death.  The monument is inscribed:


In the 15-20 minutes that it took to assemble the tribute we noticed quite a few gendarmes had gathered and some were photographing the members of the group.  We wandered amongst them looking at the tributes then suddenly realised that about 40 or more riot police had quietly crossed the square from 7 blue vans and were lined up behind the group.  They pushed and manhandled the group out of the far end of the square then ripped up their tributes to Rémi Fraisse, while smaller groups  of police positioned themselves to stop any of the group returning via side streets.

This was a shocking and totally disproportionate action by gendarmes armed with pistols and “cougar” tear-gas launchers against a small group of mourners remembering a young man who died for his love of nature.

In the last picture you can just see Susan who moments before was surrounded by these two lines of riot police.


Val says John has sent many pictures of the huge numbers of gendarmes but Malc tells me it is illegal in France to photograph police without their permission.
Thank you for the story John

Get tangoed

Argentine tango festival in Albi, 23rd Oct - 1st November 2015.

600th anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt

And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.

Val says Malc and I are still a-bed on the 25th October, St. Crispin's Day, waking early hearing Whitby church clock strike 7 although as the clocks have changed, it is only 6 am.

The Battle of Agincourt was a major English victory in the Hundred Years' War. The battle took place on Friday, 25 October 1415 (Saint Crispin's Day), near modern-day Azincourt, in northern France. Henry V's victory at Agincourt, against a numerically superior French army, crippled France and started a new period in the war during which Henry V married the French king's daughter, and their son, later Henry VI of England and Henry II of France, was made heir to the throne of France as well as of England.
At least 112 dead, unknown wounded7,000–10,000 (mostly killed) and about 1,500 noble prisoners

No need for words

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Danièle Delorme, grande dame of film

Danièle Delorme, who has died aged 89, began acting professionally in 1942 and continued until the end of the century in films, television and theatre. But the earliest part of her long and prestigious career is most remembered internationally.
Delorme started in films as a fragile and elegant, slightly coquettish ingenue, notably in three pictures directed by Jacqueline Audry, based on novels by Colette: Gigi (1949), Minne, l’Ingénue Libertine (1950) and Mitsou (1956). She was described by her first husband, the actor Daniel Gélin, as having “the face of a little girl, an upturned nose with passionate nostrils, the lips of a child, the body of a woman and a certain way about her that turns heads”.
She was born Gabrielle Girard in Paris, one of four children of André Girard, a well-known illustrator and theatre designer, and Andrée (nee Jouan). It was through her father’s contacts that the 16-year-old Gabrielle landed a bit part in La Belle Aventure (1942), directed by Marc Allégret. Allégret gave her a larger role in Les Petites du Quai aux Fleurs (1944) with Gérard Philipe, making his film debut. One of the cast, Bernard Blier, suggested she change her surname to that of the title character in a Victor Hugo play, Marion Delorme (she had already adopted her second name, Danièle). Also in the film, uncredited, was Gélin, whom Delorme married the following year.

Goths in Whitby

Picture from the Guardian
travelling tag

nous sommes le dimanche vingt cinq octobre

We hear in our part of France the weather is good. Here in Whitby we arrived around 5pm yesterday and immediately unloaded the car to find out our puffa/ parka jackets. Whitby harbour is as vibrant and fishy smelling as we remember. For Malc and I it brings back memories of our childhood. For the Southern born grandchildren it is a culture shock, with the 8 year old asking " what language do they speak?" and the 14 year old seeing streams of " goths" said " do they all look like this up North?"
This week leading up to Halloween is apparently "goth week"
Perceptions changed for the better when we found a  very smart fish and chip shop and had " fish, chips and mushy peas".
Whitby Goth Weekend is the name of the 2 day (Friday and Saturday) Goth music festival held in the Spa Pavilion, Whitby. Although the term “Whitby Goth Weekend” is now used universally to describe all the events during the week in Whitby as a whole, including official and unofficial events that run from Thursday till Monday.         Comments to

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Les Petrolheads

Two pictures from Laura and Sid

Insha'Allah - God Willing

Hi Val and Malc

Here we go - another weekend, had dinner with friends last night, as always many questions about Calais which have prompted me to scribble a few words this morning... 
Weekend in "The Jungle" is even more chaotic than during the week as hire vans full of donations pull onto the camp to distribute - people have the refugees interests at heart & many have driven from all over the UK & only spend an hour or two in Calais before going home again. Some of the donations have been badly sorted, some haven't been sorted at all, everyone is desperate, many have nothing, inevitably problems can arise, I have to admit that if I was a refugee I would certainly attempt to fight my way to the front of the queue, survival of the fittest. We found the best way to distribute & to reach those unable to be in the melee was to fill a bag with items:  shoes, socks etc... & walk asking people as we went what they needed, this is obviously time consuming but does mean the old & infirm have some chance. It was during one of these walks that a young man approached & asked that I looked at his tent - he needed 4 pallets. We walked through the mess of broken tents, rubbish & raw sewage to arrive under the high bank which runs below the motorway, here is a line of small tents - the new arrivals. "When it rains the water pours down the bank & through our tent" the young man explained, "We need 4 pallets, there are 4 of us in here - two couples, a single mattress per couple, all we need is 2 pallets each to put our beds on" - such a heartbreakingly simple request & one we could grant. Soon a crowd grows as pallets like so many of the simplest things in "The Jungle" are a potential lifesaver - the difference between sleeping in water & not.... people wait patiently - "Come look at my tent, mami, come look" is the cry that is taken up, " I need a house - mami". Some only ask for a sheet of plastic to cover a badly leaking tent, some need a blanket, one woman has had a bag of pasta given to her & has no pot to cook it in, another asks for gas, she's obviously a city dweller & has no experience with cooking over an open fire, there's no wood anyway, a lot of people have been cooking over burning plastic for weeks now. So many requests, so many people reaching out, so few of us to help, the whole situation so unnecessary, all we can say is we'll be back later, we'll try to give you a house tomorrow Insha'Allah, the magical words that always bring a smile.
As we walk back through the filth we are constantly besieged by calls - "Mami come eat with us, come drink tea" Sadly as much as we'd love to there is never time - the generosity of those with nothing is never ending.
At the entrance to the camp is a large tour bus unloading 60 or so clean, well fed camera bedecked tourists - Poverty Tourism - apparently it's a growth industry.
There are too many facets to easily explain Calais. It contains all the horror & all the beauty of mankind. We as individuals can only do our utmost to help, we now have 4 more people who have volunteered their time to join us early next month, vehicles are steadily filling with donations, the kitty grows daily but we still need money - e80 will provide a shelter. 
Please anybody in doubt about helping - put your politics aside for a moment - this is a humanitarian crisis a days drive from your door.
As always a massive thank you to everyone Laura & Sid x