Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Sent by near neighbours

Dear Val,
Again something (in link from Facebook below) from your near neighbours in Laguepie (though we are London at the moment). Thought it would amuse you and perhaps your readers. (Note that you don’t have to be on Facebook to see it - just click the ‘Not Now’ when the site comes up.)

Brexit an assault on our human rights?

Hi Val, 
I am sending you a link to this article. I find it very important for all the Brits in EU countries, who were denied a vote because they had lived abroad for more than 15 years and of course for the Europeans who live in Britain like myself. If crowdfunding is going to be started I am certainly contributing. Will let you know if I find out more. In the meantime you may wish to put this link on Taglines82 and your blog? 
On another note, I had asked my friends and family not to bring me presents for my birthday, but rather an envelope with a small donation for the refugees in our area in France. I collected € 150. You may wish to use it for the boys who are setting up home, or for another group. Will send you a cheque in the next few days. 
Lots of love to you both,


Val says I certainly feel as if my human rights have been assaulted
What a lovely thing to do Elly for our refugees. I will pass the money to Anais Rondeau as many of the young Sudanese at Bruniquel have no money as yet and to charge their phones and buy toiletries etc. it will be very useful. Anais and the workers and volunteers there are planning a musical fund raiser at the end of February.

The sale is on

Nous sommes le mardi trente et un janvier

Just love this photo of Verfeil, I am trying to find a date for it. It is the main road through the village. Just imagine that many villagers and young people.The village looks alive, children with hoops who play in the streets.
The village in 2017 is much quieter but the Mayor is welcoming to young people who are now having families and playing their part in village life. There is no school in Verfeil but the school nearby in Varen has benefitted from the children in Verfeil keeping the classes vibrant and allowing another teacher.

Monday, 30 January 2017

Thanks to June and George

A lovely couple gave us many useful things for our boys. I want them to know we sold the glass cabinets pretty much after they were unloaded, all monies going to the refugee fund.
The young men are delighted with their sofa bed and soon I will get the same reception as I donate the microwave.
Our thanks go to generous couples like this and as we drove off the boys said " what a lovely old couple"... sorry about the old but they did say they thought you were about my age!!!
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Musiques du monde

Val says  Exactly what happened last time, the refugees have to wait weeks and months to get any money. We have had one successful fundraiser at St. Antonin and now in February another is planned at Bruniquel. Mark the date in your diary and come and enjoy one of my favourite groups here called Contrabande.

 Bonjour tout le monde,AnaÏs Rondeau a pris l'initiatived'organiser un nouveau concert de soutien pour les migrants du CAO deBruniquel car, contrairement à ce qui était prévu, les dotations del'état (ADA) aux migrants en demande d'asile n'a toujours pasété versée à la plupart d'entre eux et les réserves de la tirelire de laprécédente fête sont dangereusement attaquées.Donc, le vendredi 24 févrierune soirée est organisée à la salle des fêtes de Bruniquel, vous trouverezl'affiche en fichier joint.Par souci de rentabilité nous demanderons auxbénévoles qui souhaitent s'impliquer de préparer un plat ou deux àproposer sur le buffet. De bons (très bons) musiciens, de bons petitsplats...nous devrions une fois encore joindre l'utile à l'agréable!


First French election win in 60 years

photo Ted Aljibe/AFP
On a day when the French socialist party turned the clock back in electing a "hard left" leader, it was pleasing to see that one young French woman has captured a title last won in 1953.
Iris Mittenaere, a 24 year old dental student from Lille was chosen as Miss Universe.
The competition was held in Manila, Philippines, and Iris was chosen from 86 contestants.
The "miss" elections seem to have died out in the UK, but regularly make the headlines here in France.
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nous sommes le lundi trente janvier

This was on our walk early yesterday morning, so sunny and warm we met neighbours who had taken off their coats. Then I read that St. Antonin market had been very quiet as it was so cold and grey.
Today is mild once again  but not so sunny.
But the sun is out in my heart. I have had one piece of good news after another relating to my boys.
It is amazing how the contacts I have built up over the years can work can work in our favour.
Swinging from despair over the madness of the terrible Trump set on a path to ruining America to great news on the home front.  More on that later.
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For sale this beautiful bed: NOW SOLD - Sorry

If only we needed a bed or had a corner. I love this and imagine it with big cushions making a sofa.
I am sure it will sell quickly. 60 euros including mattress
Contact me if interested and the money will go to refugees.
Val taglines82@gmail.com

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Trump bans Muslims and we welcome any one who needs help.

Last night I was witness to an amazing event, an event which signified great change within the past year. For just over one year ago, a group of 17 young men, from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sudan, Iraq and Iran, were set down in the middle of the night at a refugee centre near us in Tarn et Garonne. They had been bussed up from Calais and had not a clue where they were.
During the following three months a group of volunteers helped them with adjusting to their new circumstances. The French government contracted officials to assist in the preparation of their applications for asylum.
Last night, in St Antonin, there was a reunion for all the volunteers, now linked by a new Association Et Puis d'Ailleurs. The salle des fetes was packed for an evening of singing, dancing and plates of Sudanese and Afghan food. Also present were eleven of the young men. More than half now have some kind of protection in France, with several having been granted asylum, whilst others have the right of civil protection. The rest are waiting to find out whether France will extend the same rights to them.
These young men had effectively brought together this huge collection of volunteers, mostly French, but with some expat supporters. They had brought them together by their grace, by their gentleness, by their good humour and by their persistence in pursuit of a new life. One could only admire their courage. And in truth they have given us more than we have given them. They have given us the belief that we can change lives, that we can stand against the darkness that seems to have taken hold of the world. But above all they have given us hope for our own humanity. Thank you, young migrants.
Chris B

Val says       A big thank you to a special Afghan boy who made an elderly lady very happy last night. So much appreciated these flowers, as it means more when I know money is scarce.
A great life is now coming your way Ali, of that I am sure.

Do we get BDs?

At Angouleme there is an annual festival of Bandes dessinées an art form which seems particularly French, though the American Marvel type comics were important.
But the prize for best album this year has been awarded to a Belgian pair, in the tradition of Hergé the creator of Tintin. Eric Lambé and Philipe de Pierpont were chosen for their album called "Paysage après la bataille", which depicts in muted colours the grief of a mother who loses a child.
The winning album
Readers who usually buy the winning album may find these 420 pages a different kettle of fish to the usual winners.
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Could Macron win?

The second round of the socialist party primary takes place today and it is likely that Benoit Hamon a left wing candidate - sometimes compared to Jeremy Corbyn - will triumph over former prime minister Manuel Valls.
Valls is firmly in the centre left and although he is supposed to back the winner many of his supporters are unhappy at that prospect. A group of deputies has expressed its opposition to Hamon: "I haven't spent three years opposing the frondistes to vote for them in the presidentials". Some have declared their intention to vote for centrist independent Emmanuel Macron, who is favoured by many left voters.
Talking yesterday to a liberal elderly French friend he said he favoured Macron over the alternatives. So if Valls decides to back Macron could he garner enough support to beat Le Pen in the presidential first round? Presumably "militants" will still vote for Hamon and Melenchon, but could the prospect of offering a genuine alternative to Fillon lead to traditional left voters springing a surprise?
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Nous sommes le dimanche vingt neuf janvier

What a beautiful space in St. Antonin, in and around the halle.
We do live in a beautiful area and one can see why film makers like to film here.
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Saturday, 28 January 2017

the bells, the bells at St Antonin

A photo by Bruce Bengamra

Now I know at Varen the pigeons fly above the chateau and the church when the bells toll, and I know it is the same at Cordes sur Ciel.
I am sure it must be the same in Saint Antonin, but if you know differently please correct me.

Why we must stay vigilant

4 Auschwitz survivors stand beside a photo of them as children, taken 72 years ago Yesterday when the camp was liberated.

French star dies at 89

On a day when Anglophone readers are regretting the passing of the wonderful John Hurt, Francophones are mourning Emmanuelle Riva. Readers who saw the multi-award winning French film "Amour" will remember the tremendous and moving performance of Riva, and Jean-Louis Trintignon, in 2012. Nominated for best actress at the Oscars she celebrated her 86th birthday on the day of the ceremony. She also was awarded the 2013 Bafta for her role in Michael Haneke's film about a couple of retired musicians whose love is put under stress when the wife has a stroke.
She also starred in Alain Resnais' film "Hiroshima Mon Amour".

Nous sommes le samedi vingt huit janvier

Messages from around the world.
Facebook publishes your birthday to friends and yesterday for my 71st birthday which I had hoped to quietly pass I received over 100 messages and posts and phone calls.
The wonderful thing was these messages are from friends around the world, from friends, all colours, all religions, they speak many languages, some different to mine.
What we all have in common is a longing for friendship and peace.
The isolationist policies of the madmen who are trying to take over the world and cause division must be fought against and we must make our voices heard.
It was also yesterday a day of remembrance for the holocaust, many pictures were on the internet yesterday showing the suffering of jews. They are shocking but it could happen again without our vigilance.
Pray to your Gods, pray to humanity and and make sure in everything you do, you fight this disgusting rise in nationalism.
The flowers were sent by Muhammad
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Friday, 27 January 2017

The gangster next door

People living in a Carmaux suburb called their neighbour "le marseillais", but did not know that the sixty year old, a quiet man, occasionally a bit merry by the end of the day, was in fact a retired gangster, well-known in the Marseille underworld. Yves Costamagno was under discreet surveillance by police as he was suspected of being implicated in the disappearance of a former associate.
A third man was living in a caravan in the garden and discovered that his landlord had died on Wednesday and called the police. Enquiries revealed that the remains of a third man were being dissolved in a vat of acid in the yard, a man whose identity is thought to be that of the missing gangland figure. Police suspect that the killing was a matter of settling a debt as Costamagno had been using the missing man's credit card.
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Parisot Libary Sat 28 th

We are very much looking forward to seeing you tomorrow 
Saturday 28th January
for our first LibraryLit talk by Vanessa Couchman -

21st Century Publishing
The Options: Going it Alone,
Being Published,
Hard Copy or eBook?

Anyone who has recently tried to get published has discovered
that the book world has now changed beyond recognition.

In her talk on both publishing and writing Vanessa will guide us through the new labyrinth of publishing possibilities, and give
some short readings from her most recent publication.


10.30 talk - 11.30 discussion - 12.00 apéritifs

There will be copies of Vanessa's publications 
'The House At Zaronza A Tale of Corsica'
and Writers Abroad anthologies to buy as well as
copies of 
Festilitt author books.
All LibraryLit events are free of charge.

The next author talks are: 

Saturday 25th March - Tracey Warr, historical novelist.

Saturday 27th May - Stephen Goldenberg, crime writer.

Full information will be sent out a few weeks before.

nous sommes le vendredi vingt sept janvier

French presidential candidate Francois Fillon on Thursday hit back at claims his wife had been paid €500,000 ($540,000) for a fictitious job by saying she had "always worked for me".
Fillon, a conservative who is currently the presidential frontrunner in opinion polls, said British-born Penelope Fillon had been his parliamentary assistant doing tasks such as correcting his speeches and attending demonstrations.
"There is not the slightest doubt that my wife has worked as a parliamentary assistant for me for years," he said in an interview with TF1 television.
"My wife has always worked for me, she has always been by my side in my public life," Fillon said.
Pressed on what work she did, he added: "She corrected my speeches, she received a huge number of people whom I couldn't see, she represented me at demonstrations, she did press reviews for me and she passed on people's requests."
The national financial prosecutor has opened an investigation into the allegations, which were made this week by the Canard Enchaine newspaper.
Fillon's lawyer on Thursday submitted documents to investigators to support his case.
Val says  I think we need Fillon to have a strong bid as he to my mind seems the strongest person to defeat Le Pen. I think this will be resolved.

Thursday, 26 January 2017

A must watch clip, my sides ache.

Hi Val
Hope this makes you and your readers laugh as much as we did.
All the best

Val says  the Dutch response to Donald Trump making America great.

You love little dogs, well here is one for you.

Titi est un petit chien d'un an! Il est ok chien et chat, il sait se tenir en voiture! Il est joueur et câlin. Il est identifié et sera castré. Adoptable Midi Pyrénées
Titi, a name change is possible! a little year old boy, is OK with other dogs and cats. I
He likes going in the car, is happy and loves a cuddle. Is identified and will be castrated, all in all for that person who loves a little dog what more could you want. He is in the St. Antonin area at the moment.
Contact me if you wish to know more

Trump supporters set to troll French elections

Donald Trump supporters are reportedly planning to disguise themselves as French social media users and bombard Facebook pages in France with "anti-François Fillon shit posting", all in a bid to help the National Front's Marine Le Pen win the presidential election.
On Tuesday night the website Buzzfeed posted a story that might concern the likes of François Fillon, Emmanuel Macron and other candidates in the upcoming French presidential election. Although perhaps not Marine Le Pen.
The article was titled: "Trump Supporters Online Are Pretending To Be French To Manipulate France’s Election" and suggested fans of the controversial US president were now mobilizing to help Trump admirer Marine Le Pen in her battle for the Elysée Palace.
The report included images from a private chatroom they had gained access to called "The Great Liberation of France", hosted on a messaging platform called Discord.
It revealed how Trump supporters are organising online to create fake French accounts on social media.
Using the fake profiles with names such as FN_LePen_2016, the screenshots show how they plan to take to the comments sections of French Facebook pages as well as targeting pro-FN Twitter trends and Reddit posts.
One of their tactics is to fill the comments of popular pages with jokes mocking Les Republicains candidate Francois Fillon - the favourite to beat Le Pen in the crucial runoff vote next May - as well as pro-FN memes.
 “They go their [sic] for the news but will be de facto subjected to our meme magic in the comments section” one of their messages read.
"We hit them with our memes, anti-Fillon shitposting".

Val says  facebook users know about trolls, but organising trolling is on the increase, setting up fake accounts and status to pervert results. Makes you want to keep your friends close and your ID private.... or ignore Facebook altogether.

It never rains..

You may remember the "horse meat" scandal a few years ago which led to the closure of the Spanghero meat plant in Castelnaudary. At that time the business had passed out of the hands of the Spanghero brothers (whom older readers may remember were French rugby internationals), but Laurent Spanghero decided to buy back the closed plant and re-open under a new brand. He had to contend with labour disputes as he wanted to hand pick his employees from the staff who had lost their jobs, avoiding those who he considered "trouble-makers".
Now he is being prosecuted for manslaughter after a security guard was crushed by a steel gate which was so precarious it "trembled like a leaf".  Spanghero was said to have ignored warnings, but claims he was busy trying to "secure the site" before remedial work was carried out.  The prosecution allege that the fatality was not an isolated event, but part of a catalogue of errors. A sentence of 6 months suspended and a fine has been demanded by the prosecution. The court will give its decision in March.
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Nous sommes le jeudi vingt six janvier

Lovely blue sky, sunny start but very cold... me, I am dashing out on yet another mission with boys, so have a nice day all.
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Wednesday, 25 January 2017

The fight goes on

Dear friends,
I have just pledged another contribution to this cause. I find yesterday's Supreme Court ruling encouraging and the reasons set out in the link below,  to continue challenging the Government,  very compelling. It was actually good reading and touched on some issues which are very important to me personally (as a Dutch European having lived, worked and continuing to pay taxes in UK for some 50 yrs) and my British friends In France and other European countries. I don't often send out a plea like this, but yesterday's ruling would not have been possible if people like us hadn't got together and contributed something. 
Best wishes,

I just pledged to this case: https://www.crowdjustice.org/case/parliament-take-control/
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Boys from the blackstuff

Remember the TV series in which a group of itinerant  road makers travel about on legitimate contracts, but often has a "bit left on the lorry" which they could use for private drives and courtyards? Their work was generally sub-standard and payment strictly cash. Well their spirit lives on in the Tarn where two Irish road builders ("navvies"or  navigators  as they were called in the 19th century) have been arrested for extortion and threatening behaviour.
Apparently the two men are well-known as they pass by the region each year, mainly offering their services to farmers at cut price, but then demanding a much higher sum once the job is done. In Albi they did work on a farm then asked for 4800 euros. The farmer considered the work to be shoddy and refused to pay. He was abused and assaulted before handing over a cheque, but complained to the police who then arrested the "bitumeurs".
We wonder if they said "Giz a job, monsieur"?
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Nous sommes le mercredi vingt cinq janvier

brr! a cold morning, frozen buckets and crunchy grass and a grey sky. Oh! well, we have very few mornings like this. Wrap up warm and soldier on, dream of the spring.
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Big order from US

Boeing is the biggest American aeroplane maker, but a local firm, Figeac Aero, has announced a 500 million euro order to manufacture and assemble parts for an American sub-contractor. The parts are to be used in the assembly of various Boeing and Airbus long-haul aircraft. It is the second time the Lot based company has received an order in excess of a half a billion euros.
Photo: MazPPP
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How this caring man was made.

The great letter of Cédric Herrou's mother, this brave farmer activist who helps the young migrants of la Roya. Great translation job, thank you Sara Green!

 Cédric Herrou TAG has reported on before, he is the man who helps refugees near the French Italian border. If you read the letter from his mother ones can see why caring is in his nature. I have great respect for his mother and Cédric and of course they have my support.

A letter from Cédric Herrou’s mother

A letter to you, the Public Prosecutor …
I am the mother of the man you are hounding. My own paternal grandmother also crossed the border with Italy on foot, across mountains, and she lost the baby she was carrying during this long journey (perhaps she came across the grandmothers of Mr Ciotti and Mr Estrosi at the time, who knows?) she hired herself out like a beast of burden to pull the carts. I remember her wearing a leather strap across her torso… As for my mother, she was German, my sister was born in a Gestapo jail, they were both liberated by the Americans; That blood is half the blood that flows through the veins of my two sons, who you had arrested on Thursday, the other half is pure Breton blood and Bretons are stubborn and they’re not scared of storms.
They may not be French right through to their core – or to the stump of their tree as the saying goes in French (and isn’t the stump what’s left of a tree once it’s dead?) – but they have deep, living roots in this country, which is their country and which they love.
Perhaps this will help you understand… we were a foster family for 25 years. Cedric was 5 and Morgan 7 when the first children arrived. They shared their toys, their meals, their home, their parents with 15 neglected children, from all backgrounds, some had been beaten or raped.
So when Cedric tells you that the children he sees on our lanes and roads in the Roya are his brothers and sisters, he is not lying to you. And when he calls the children’s social services so strongly into question, it’s because he knows how they operate.
We have four children because they agreed to two of those children becoming part of our family, they are their sister and their brother now and we are very proud of it!
So, when you and all the others call him a smuggler or a people trafficker, you should know that this is the man you are dealing with!
Yours respectfully,
Mama Herrou

Monday, 23 January 2017

Benoit who?

The first round of voting for the Parti Socialist candidate in the forthcoming presidential election produced a surprise result with Benoit Hamon topping the poll. Ex-Prime Minister Manuel Valls came second, 5% points behind with 31%.
A former Education Minister, Hamon is a Breton and significantly to the left of Valls. As such he is likely to appeal to the supporters of third placed Arnaud Montebourg and is clear favourite to win the nomination.
Most controversial proposals include that of introducing a universal income - rising to over 700 euros per person regardless of income, repealing the labour laws introduced by Valls, removing France's dependence on nuclear power and diesel fuel by 2035.
Centrists will point out that Hamon is well behind in the polls with Emmanuel Macron and even Melenchon likely to out-vote him in the presidential elections. Valls has more support in the country, but clearly damaged by his association with Hollande's  government.
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Nous sommes le lundi vingt trois janvier

Ann thought you would be interested in the following item from nzherald.co.nz:
A long voyage: Refugees arrive home in Aotearoa
Five years on from arrival most refugees are no longer on a benefit, many have jobs, a good grasp of English and are doing well with their studies. Having escaped sectarian conflicts, civil war, political ... More
The following personal message was also included:
..this may be of interest especially those who feel refugees just become a drain on resources and do not integrate. regards Anne
Sign up for regular email news updates from nzherald.co.nz - click here.
Visit nzherald.co.nz throughout the day for the latest breaking news.

Val says Ann is our reader in NZ( we may have more but she keeps in touch) She had a happy holiday in the St. Antonin area which she has never forgotten. interesting to get this report of refugees that have integrated so well and it is an inspiration for our young men and for us helpers.
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Sunday, 22 January 2017

The road to the Corniche and Montricoux

first photo taken by Sophie Hautefeuilles
Montricoux photo by Ralph David Kennedy

Toulouse good for jobs, but

A weekly magazine, L'Express, publishes lists of various aspects of French life and its annual study of the best cities in which to live shows that Toulouse is fifth best place to find work. However the study measures other aspects, such as quality of life, access to culture, good schools and universities, transport links etc, and here la ville rose slumped to 30th place.
The large metropolises are judged best for employment but the smaller cities are better at offering a better quality of life. Thus Limoges was in third place and Albi fourth. Living as we do in a very rural area we often feel the lack of amenities such as transport and culture, but the quality of life in our small villages makes up for a lot.
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Nous sommes le dimanche vingt deux janvier

A mild morning but so far lacking the sun. What a lovely few days we have had, warm and sunny. Blue skies make all the difference to our lives and the way we feel.
Today we are sending birthday greetings to our brother in law Tudor, an avid TAG reader.
Have a great day Tudor with the family in Middlesbrough.

Today is also the start of the process of selecting a candidate for the socialist party who according to polls, the party is least popular of all the 5 other parties.

...  and I will be out today fencing another field which still has a bit of  grazing, ready for the donkeys.
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Women march against Trump in Toulouse

Amazing scenes around the world as women march against Donald Trump, many wearing " pussy hats"
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Saturday, 21 January 2017

Posted by the Bishop on the website of the Catholic Church at Montauban

In the name of the Catholic Church in Montauban, I totally disapprove of this initiative taken by the Abbe Sylvain Coulon.
I regret that people may have been shocked or injured by this incident.
On Sunday, January 22, I will preside at the parochial Mass to meet the faithful and bring peace and confidence.
Mgr Bernard Ginoux

A new website on St. Antonin Noble Val

je ne m'occupe plus du site cotenobleval.org (pour des divergences en matière de communication avec l'association dont je reste toujours membre).
Du coup, je me suis reporté sur un nouveau site personnel intitulé 
http://nobilis-vallis.eu/ (ou le regard d'un géographie sur Saint-Antonin).
Ce site fortement adossé à mon expérience professionnelle d'avant  (de géographie) sur l'évolution des territoires cherche à "suivre" l'évolution du Saint-Antonin face à la modernité. Il comprend :
  • Un blog
  • un dictionnaire de méthode pour préciser de quoi on parle
  • des synthèses (en cours de rédaction) sur des grandes questions  qui touchent la région.
  • une newsletter de temps en temps pour faire des rappels.
Je vous invite à aller voir ce site (qui démarre tout doucement), à en faire connaître l'existence et me dire ce qui est bon et surtout pas bon !
C'est un site un peu technique mais peu à peu je m'efforcerai, dans les pages de synthèses, à entrer dans le vif des sujets : par exemple, l'économie résidentielle (et le rapport avec les "étrangers" qu'ils soient français ou anglophones
il y a également une page facebook
Merci de votre intérêt et de votre aide

Dominique Perchet

Looking for rental accommodation + some French conversation

Hi Val,
 we met at the cafe in Saint Antonin when you were collecting Christmas boxes for the young refugees. I was with my daughter Irena. Would any of your TAG on-line readers know of any long-term rental accommodation in the center of Saint Antonin. I am currently staying in a lovely place however need to move out in May. Preferably I would like to rent a 1 or 2 bedroom apartment/small house with a patio, small garden or balcony (so I can enjoy the sunshine). It will probably be a year or more. I am a widower, so it will only be for me. On another note - would anyone be interested in an informal English/French conversation exchange. I am keen to learn (however still very basic) and thought it would be nice to meet up for a coffee and chat, or maybe a small walk and chat? Anyway many thanks Tom. My email address is tommak39@gmail.comor 0563 41 76 73

A French take on the Trump presidency

Tin tin leaves America

Nous sommes le samedi vingt et un janvier

A much milder morning with my barometer on the job! the donkeys buckets were not frozen.
Blue sky and without Brexit and Donald Trump all might be OK in the world!!
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coffee and parlez at Laguepie

The langauge of the area in times past in  "occitanie"is occitane and if you want to learn a few words or even the language this may be a good place to start.

Friday, 20 January 2017

World handball championships

In venues throughout the country, France are defending the world handball title they won in Qatar in 2015. "Les Experts" as the team is called, have so far won all their matches to top their group and qualify to meet Iceland in the quarter final, to be held in Lille tomorrow (Saturday 21st).
Spectators for France v Japan in Nantes: pic Jerome Fouquet/MaxPPP
If they win the title it will be the sixth time France has been men's world handball champions. We are not familiar with the game, but so far over 200000 spectators have attended the matches and the 24 teams include Brazil, Russia, Poland and Iceland and Japan. The matches are being shown in over 180 countries by BEin sports.
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Airport chaos averted

The prefect of Haute Garonne has called up pompiers to provide the cover needed to avoid Toulouse Blagnac airport having to cancel flights today
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French primary election Sunday

An election of a candidate from the "government left" - ie those parties involved with the PS in the current government will begin on Sunday, 22nd January. There are 7 candidates, including Manuel Valls former prime minister, Arnaud Montebourg (leading "frondiste) and Sylvia Pinel the leader of the PRG (Parti Radical de Gauche) who is the MP for our constituency and the Breton Benoit Hamon.
The second round will be on Sunday 29th. and around 7500 polling stations will be open. Voting is open but only in the place where the voter is on the electoral register. Valls, Montebourg and Hamon seem to be the front runners, with Valls significantly to the right of his adversaries.
Many consider that it will be academic who wins as the left as a whole is too divided to fend off Marine le Pen in the first round of the presidential election. With J-L Melenchon holding the far left candidacy and Emmanuel Macron attracting the centre left following it seems unlikely that any PS backed candidate can attract the 30% or so needed in the first round of the presidentials.
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Furnishing two apartments

Two of our boys who have asylum Hujat and Misbah have now got their own apartments at Montauban. The apartments are unfurnished so we needs two beds, chairs, cooker, microwave, fridge, bedding, pots and pans and anything to make a home.
Let me know if you have any of these and can get them to Bruniquel if not we will arrange for someone to pick them up.
Many thanks to everyone who has helped so far.
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Nous sommes le vendredi vingt janvier

Another frosty sunny morning, with  blue sky.
Is there any other news today but the election of Trump?
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French sailor wins the Vendée Globe

Armel Le Cléac'h has won the sailing race the Vendée globe, four days ahead of the previous record.
Comme attendu, Armel Le Cléac'h a franchi en premier la ligne d'arrivée du Vendée Globe 2016-2017. Il en profite pour battre de quatre jours le record de François Gabart.
Read more at http://www.ladepeche.fr/article/2017/01/20/2500567-tour-monde-74-jours-nouveau-roman-armel-cleac-h.html#ULRfV9pFgzHrRsfy.99

Thursday, 19 January 2017

The Chateau of Laguepie

In the winter of 1953.
There has obviously been some restoration work since this time.

French nationality needed

Hi Val,
We want to vote in the French elections this year. Never having voted here before please can you tell us how to go about it.
Laura x

Val says  only French nationals can vote in the elections, Presidential and assembly.
When we leave the EU we will also lose our right to vote in the local and ofcourse European 

Better insulation obligatory

Work to renew either a façade or roof undertaken after 1st January 2017 must include improving the insulation. There are minimum limits to the works (eg 50% of a roof renewed) and exemptions can be obtained for architectural or aesthetic reasons - but must have an expert's certificate.
It makes sense that if you are making your loft, or a garage (over 5m2) into living space that you would include insulation, but now it is mandatory. Tax credits and other fiscal incentives exist and the scheme includes all buildings, whether private dwellings or commercial premises.
Readers may have been subjected to the usual cold calls insisting that it is obligatory to renew insulation, but it is only as part of a bigger improvement project, so don't be conned.
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Pompiers threaten Blagnac

Fights to and from Toulouse Blagnac airport may be disturbed from tomorrow (20th January) as firemen have given notice of a strike. The pompiers are employed by a sub-contractor at the airport and want to change the hours worked to ensure there is a 24 hour break between shifts. The airport management claim that as there are very few night flights a complete break is unnecessary.
Talks on a similar subject were held last year when a mediator was brought in to avert a strike. Talks will be held today. Blagnac warns that it could lead to a total suspension of flights so passengers are advised to check with their airlines.
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Le Pont Vieux de Montauban et ses lumières

Photo from the Montauban Office de tourisme

Nous sommes le jeudi dix neuf janvier

Beautiful blue sky but when I went into the fields to feed the donkeys it was I think the coldest morning so far this year.
I prefered looking out of the window after breakfast in the heated house.
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Well being

 Hi Everyone, 
I am organising an eight week Well-being and Mind Management Workshop if you or any of your friends are interested in attending. The commitment is only one hour each consecutive Monday.
I will use a combination of techniques such as meditation, mindfulness and creative visualisation. The overall experience will be relaxing and healing for your mind and body.    
Location: Bonbousquet, Les Cabannes. Near Cordes-sur-Ciel. (see map below) 
Commencement dateMonday 30th January, and thereafter each Monday.  Other times may be available. 
Time: 10.45 for 11.00 start.
Duration: 1 hour.
Price: Eight weeks @ €100 if paying by cheque, or €80 if paying cash.
Clothing: Wear warm and comfortable clothing, bring a blanket.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to either email or call me on 0563 41 76 73. I currently run a number of well-being workshops for private groups and companies in Toulouse. The topics vary from group to group. 
I specialise in Transformational CoachingClinical Hypnotherapy and BrainWorking Recursive Therapy®,  

With best wishes and I look forward to hearing from you,
Irena-Marie Makowska, Dip Hyp, MIBWRT, GHR, GHSC
Focus Well-Being & Mind Management Coach
Siret No 802 871 038 00013

Foie gras losses

The trade body dealing with foie gras production has suggested that the latest outbreak of bird flu (grippe aviaire) will cost the industry 120 million euros. The earlier outbreaks in 2016 made supplies expensive at Christmas and New Year and the latest outbreak has led to the slaughter of 1.5 million geese and ducks. The body thinks that the epidemic is still not under control, and has proposed measures that the producers themselves can take to contain future outbreaks.
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Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Where can you buy small amounts of heating oil ?

Hi Val,
With the cold weather upon us, I am trying to find a heating oil supplier who will deliver oil in small quantities of 300ltr? I have phoned around a few of the big suppliers and the minimum seems to be 500ltr. Does anyone know of a local supplier who will deliver smaller quantities?
David from Montricoux 
Malc suggest you ask neighbours and share part loads.

Religions care about people

Relating to Joanne's letter in the earlier post"
All religions  are about caring for people, I do not need to list all the religions around the world.
I do need to say that we stay vigilant against vile racist views and we fight against this wherever we see it. I was pleased to see on a local village site one of the villagers is prepared to fight so that the village church is not subjected to racist views and sentiments again. Mentioning she wanted to write a letter to the Archbishop she received this response:

Je suis tres heureuse et a la fois triste  de constater que les " etrangers" montrent plus d' interêt pour Verfeil que ceux qui se revendiquent Verfeillais de naissance . Heureusement finalement que toutes ces personnes font vivre le groupe en intervenant . Bravo a elles . Bravo et MERCI .

I will let you know developments about a letter which  personally I think should be sent to local mayors as well as the bishop and I will happily sign.
We may not be French, we may not all be Catholics but we all know we want to protect JEWS, it can never happen again,  the holocaust.
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An interesting letter from the Archbishop of Toulouse in 1942

Hi Val

Thanks for your thought provoking comments on the Verfeil facebook page and on TAG
In attempting to find out who the Archbishop of Toulouse is, I came across this wonderful delivery (see below) from the Archbishop of Toulouse in 1942, when interment camps (1 in Toulouse the other in Noe, south of Toulouse) were present.  These interment camps where used to people before transporting them out of the country to labour camps or to be exterminated. 

What a brave man!! I wonder what happened to him.


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Archbishop of Toulouse Protests the Persecution of the Jews

(August 23, 1942)

On "human dignity", read out from the pulpit on August 23, 1942 without comment.
My very dear Brothers,
There is a Christian morality, a human morality, which lays down duties and recognizes rights. These rights and duties stem from the nature of man; they come from God. One can violate them... [but] no mortal has the power to do away with them.
Children, women, men, fathers and mothers being treated like a lowly herd; members of a single family being separated from each other and carted away to an unknown destination - it is our age which was destined to see this dreadful sight.
Why is there no longer any right of asylum in our churches?
Why are we the defeated?
Lord, have pity on us.
Our Lady, pray for France.
In our diocese, moving scenes have occurred in the camps of Noe and Recebedou. The Jews are men; the Jewesses are women. The foreigners are men and women. One may not do anything one wishes to these men, to these women, to these fathers and mothers. They are part of the human race; they are our brothers, like so many others. A Christian cannot forget this.
France, beloved Fatherland; France, which bears in the consciences of all your children the tradition of respect for human dignity; chivalrous and generous France- I have no doubt that you are not responsible for these errors.
Yours devotedly, dear Brothers,
(Signed) Jules Gerard SALIEGE 
Archbishop of Toulouse

Blue sky,chestnuts and happy walkers

One of the most underpopulated regions in France, Tagland.
Today even with minus temperatures the sun was out and it was just wonderful walking the lanes. The chestnut wood still has chestnuts to be picked, for Bonny trying a bit of mousing in the trees, made her walk sublime.
Eldo sadly kept on the lead, the neighbours have hens again and as yet Eldo is not trained that they are not his country playthings.
Get out in the countryside, lighten your mood and get your heart pumping.
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Liberty, equality and fraternity... we hope.

I do not think I am alone in my fears on leaving Europe. For those of us who have made their lives here, no longer having the umbrella of being in the European Union with all the rights that brings us. rights to work, rights to medical care, rights to vote in local elections, European driving permits, is something we need to think about. I am hoping there will be agreements made as are we all,  but nothing is certain. I have a Dutch friend in the UK who has real fears that after living their for 30 years, married to an English doctor who is now dead, never taken out citizenship ( like us) feeling being European was enough. Now she hears of friends in similar positions being told they will have no right to health care and even having rights to stay revoked.
I know we have friends living here from Canada and America, who have never had the benefits of the European system, some struggle, some have enough capital to manage.
What we may all have to face this coming year is a growing animosity to foreigners as we start moving into the weeks before the elections here in May. The wave of hatred and populism is sweeping the world and France will be no exception.
We have an example of that right in our local village with the anti Jewish faction already cranking up. Along with this comes homophobia and xenophobia and when this comes from established figures, one is concerned.
I wondered how French friends were reacting to the curé's welcoming of the hate ridden author writing about Jews into a local church.
Well now I know reading posts of French friends that the curé has a  very right wing populist reputation here.
 one comment I read

"As we already knew ... We quarreled very quickly after his arrival, he took the key from the church of St. Sabine which had been entrusted to me by the people here, for refusing to receive Its stinky anti-homosexuality newsletter, anti Europe, anti Globalization, this work of the Devil, anti-everything, in fact. Well I was rather proud to be treated as a bad parishioner, I confess, I confess ...".

I have yet to discover if anyone will do anything to censure him. At least we know he is not a man on the side of "love to all men"

For me keeping your head down is not an option. It is important however hard that we keep our principles of love to all .
Liberty, equality and fraternity are going to be words used  by most political sides but it is who acts on these words which will determine our continued happy future in France.
Sorry for the dismal post on such a bright sunny morning.
I am now off to walk the dogs along the lanes and raise my spirits.
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Turn down your heating

Just when we need it EDF and the government are urging industry and households to economise on electricity to avoid power cuts.
France relies on its nuclear power stations for over 80% of supplies and with over 80% of homes heated by electricity it responds poorly to peaks. You simply cannot turn on an extra nuclear pile. So electricity has to be imported from Germany (still using coal fired stations) and Spain, which has substantial wind power production.
Locally many rely on wood or oil and gas, but nationally the subsidies given to electric installations in the 1990's mean that the natural gas networks so widespread in the UK just don't exist here. So if you are cold - put another layer of clothes on (and an extra dog on the bed).
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We are getting older

People aged 65 and over now count for 19.2% of the population of France. And life expectancy is now 85.4 years for women and 79.3 for men (the gap of nearly six years is wider than the UK, where it is only 4 years - though it is narrowing in France).
The statistics are taken from a comprehensive population census report from INSEE, the official department for statistics. The overall population is now 66.9 millions, the second highest in the EU and has grown by about 265000 in 2016. The growth is largely the result of births outstripping deaths, net migration being 67000. France has 13% of the EU population. But births are slowing down largely due to the reduction of women of childbearing age.
Insee also notes that the "baby boomers" are reaching the age of likely death (cheerful news for us all!!).
As we know, marriage is not as fashionable as it used to be, but in 2016 some 235000 couples married, with about 7000 being same sex marriages. But the civil partnerships continue to increase to around 200000 concluded in 2016.
The problem of an ageing population raises questions of how long people need to work, who will provide the revenue and services to finance pensions and care for ever older populations. Perhaps Angela Merkel's policy of adding a million young workers to Germany's population will help that country to deal with the problem.
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nous sommes le mercredi dix huit janvier