Friday, 30 June 2017

Joanne's new food truck

I am debuting my new business, Estabuffette which is a food truck, trading out of a converted1980's Estafette. Being a Canadian with British citizenship, living in France and serving authentic Mexican food is a bit of a mouthful but after 6 long months of getting all the paperwork and permissions in order, I am ready to start! All very exciting! Part of what I want to do is contribute to the community in which I live in Verfeil and provide something a bit different for a sit down meal or a takeaway.  Profit made on the 16th July will include a 10% donation to the refugee fund. So I hope that is ok.

I also have permission to trade in the Place Courte Boule thereafter on Tuesday's and Wednesdays until the end of this year. Updates on other locations will be on my Facebook page as they become confirmed.  

Free a capella concert on Sunday

Le Labo will be performing on Sunday 2nd July at the lavoir at 5.00pm.  The lavoir is located beside the tennis courts, on the road leaving Verfeil in the direction of Laguepie. We sing world music, all A Capella. our chorale is lead by Cathon, who is also a member of Les Cinq Oreilles. ~in case of rain, we will be in or near the Halle in Verfeil.

Perhaps you may have time to come along.  We are pretty good!

Montricoux is buzzing

Hi Val,

The village power supply has been running off a generator since Wednesday morning and there is a great humming noise in the air. This morning new power equipment has arrived. 

Fripaffaires to open in Caylus

The volunteer "friperie" in Parisot has raised over 10000 euros for Restos de Coeur and Medecins sans Frontieres since it opened barely a year ago. Now a second "pop-up shop" will be open in July and August in Caylus. The shops are entirely manned (or womanned) by volunteers and all the items for sale are generously donated by the public.
The new shop will open on July 4th (next Tuesday).

Nous sommes le vendredi trente juin

Saint Antonin Noble Val photographed by Gareth Brown

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Nous sommes le jeudi vingt neuf juin

Hello Val and Malcolm,

I will be at the evening meal planned for Friday 30th and perhaps will see you there.  but before then, I attach a poster for publication on Taglines if you think it is appropriate.

I am debuting my new business, Estabuffette which is a food truck, trading out of a converted1980's Estafette. Being a Canadian with British citizenship, living in France and serving authentic Mexican food is a bit of a mouthful but after 6 long months of getting all the paperwork and permissions in order, I am ready to start! All very exciting! Part of what I want to do is contribute to the community in which I live in Verfeil and provide something a bit different for a sit down meal or a takeaway.  Profit made on the 16th July will include a 10% donation to the refugee fund. So I hope that is ok.

I also have permission to trade in the Place Courte Boule thereafter on Tuesday's and Wednesdays until the end of this year. Updates on other locations will be on my Facebook page as they become confirmed.  

If you want any further information, just let me know.  I look forward to seeing you and Malcolm on Friday.

all the best,
Joanne Schofield
Val says  I will attach the poster when we are home tonight. on the boat with intermittant WIFI
The meal on the 30 th is with refugees at Verfeil, if you want to come let me know

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

I will be welcomed home

Mama I miss you so much in this period, which did not see you I wish I was okay always waiting for you with all the longing for sincere love and respect
Val says,  I received this lovely message and photos this morning on my timeline. You give love and you get it back with these boys.
I feel priviliged to be able to help these lads who have had such a tough time.

Nous sommes le mercredi vingt huit juin

Bad storm today in Montricoux. No power and still out at midnight.

Val says we have not heard from our housesitters  but if there has been a bad storm we nearly always lose internet and telephone for awhile... one of the joys of living in the country.
Hope everyone is safe and dry and the storm passed you with no ill effects.
We set off this afternoon to catch an overnight ferry from Portsmouth to St. Malo, home tomorrow evening.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Hearing the news from home, which is France

We get reports from friends about our animals who are all behaving well. Yesterday we hear there was a storm in the evening with needed rain. Before that happened we had a delivery of two donkeys, the boys who join us for the summer months had arrived. We then got a message to say the battery was dead to the electric fence. Fortunately we could tell the friends/ housesitters where the spare battery was.
As well as partying here it was good to receive photos of our guys partying for the end of Ramadan there in France.
We did some shopping yesterday and noticed a considerable rise in prices since our last visit when we felt the UK was cheaper than France in many areas. I suppose we are also affected by the drop in the value of the pound against the euro and our euros are just not going as far.
Our lives as so entwined between the two countries, Brexit is such a madness for many of us.( all of us Malc says)

Nous sommes le mardi vingt sept juin

Things to do in the SW of France, just a few ideas.

Monday, 26 June 2017

Nous sommes le lundi vingt six juin

Sorry we totally mised yesterday, party time here in the UK.
Here in Henley on Thames and all the guests at the party including the local candidate for the Labour party were Remainers. Well all the ones who came to tell us they sympathized with our situation living in France. 
Sam our daughter says one friend kept quiet.
How the other side lives in Henley, the disparity between the lives of our boys and Henley folk is just amazing.
So glad thar Sam and her friends want to help and many would have had young refugees with them if only they had been allowed by the government.

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Nous sommes le samedi vingt quatre juin

- the Parisot literary festival
20, 21 & 22 October 2017
"Powerful, pleasing and pleasurable"

Swimming Lessons

Claire Fuller

Claire Fuller enjoyed both critical acclaim and commercial success with her debut novel, Our Endless Numbered Days in 2015.  It won the Desmond Elliott Prize, was a finalist in the American Booksellers Association Indies Best Books Awards and has been published in 13 countries.

She joins us at Festilitt to talk about her second novel, Swimming Lessons, published earlier this year and described by The Sunday Times as “thrilling, transporting, delicately realised and held together by a sophisticated sense of suspense” and as “powerful, pleasing and pleasurable”. 

The novel tells the story of Ingrid Coleman, who writes letters to her husband Gil about the truth of their marriage and then hides them in his books, before disappearing from a beach. Twelve years later the couple’s adult daughters return home when Gil says he has seen Ingrid through a bookshop window. It is a tense and suspenseful novel, through which Claire, in the words of The Observer, “confirms herself as a writer of emotional depth, technical skill and sensitive plotting.”
Learn more about Claire
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If you would like to help, whether by selling books, transporting or hosting authors, making cakes or serving teas please click here to get in touch and find out more.  Thank you!
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Friday, 23 June 2017

Life in words

"Life in Words"  the anthology produced by the Creative Writing Group  in memory of Doreen Porter, is now published and Gavin Porter and the authors invite you to join us for an aperitif from 6 pm – 7.30 pm on Wednesday 28th June to remember Doreen and collect your books ordered.   Minimum cost is 5 euros with proceeds going to one of Doreen's favourite charities Room to Read.    Those who have not yet placed an order can do so on the website or on the day.    email: 
The venue is the pretty courtyard setting of Margaret and David Atkin's house in La Roquette, near Laguépie.
Directions from St Antonin:       
Go through Lexos and Varen and as you enter Laguépie there is a RAGT on your right.  Opposite this is a sharp turn to the left ( next to the Vet's cabinet signposted Najac )  Continue up the hill, go through Bacou, keep going up the hill and  at the top, there are some dustbins on the right. Take the next little turning  on the right (small signpost La Roquette), go down the lane and up the other side.  This is La Roquette and it is the third house on the left with blue shutters.  The field before the house is for parking.
For directions from other destinations and confirmation of your attendance, please contact Margaret on 

Moving to France and needing help

cTeply to

Hi Val & Malcolm,

Sorry to bother you but we need help! We have a house near Penne. We bought it as a second home in October 2015. However, because we love it here so much, adore the natural beauty and the people, we have spent more time in France than we expected. We now want to make Penne our principal home. This has become very much more pressing since the announcement yesterday by the UK government regarding the rights of EU citizens in the UK and vice versa. We are very fed up with the politics in the UK, and we love it here! We are looking for advice about how to go about this: tax, health insurance etc. The most difficult issue is probably income tax - as you know, the tax years in France and the UK are different , and the rules are very different. Our tax is not particularly complicated, but does involve investments, both taxed and tax-free, property, etc. and I think we need advice from someone who understands French taxation, or better still the tax position of people who want to move to France from the UK. Obviously, they need to speak both languages and we would want them to act as an agent on our behalf and we would of course expect there would be a fee! Better still if they understood wider issues about health insurance etc. Unfortunately, we do not know even where to begin. I tried Credit Agricole and they were completely and utterly hopeless! Do you know anyone who could provide us with the advice we need? Both of us are retired but have yet to reach 65 - though I am only a few weeks away from that landmark - becoming officially an old buffer!

With all best wishes,
Peter & Harriet
Val Says     the man to ask is Chris Robinson

Hello Val and Malc
Hope you're havong a wonderful time with your family.

As regards Harriet and Peter's post about taxes, administration...etc, I hope you won't mind posting this message:
 -  my sister-in-law Sophie Curato - O'Neill is a pledged interpret, having  connections with notarial, bank plus insurance actors. At present she's in charge of several UK residents, be it permanent residents in France or partially.

She's registered  on the site " Compagnie des experts Toulouse"
She's French  and fluent in  English and Spanish
Living in Montauban.
Here  are her directions :
Sophie O'Neill-Curato

best regards 

Concert raising money for Alzheimer82

Madame, Monsieur,


France Alzheimer 82, toujours soucieuse de participer à la vie de la cité, vous invite à un concert  avec le "Chœur Soulidarity Gospel Singers" dirigé par Katy BOYÉ, Samedi 24 juin de 16h à 17h30 dans la cour de l'Espace Accueil du Fort.

Ce moment de convivialité est l'occasion de sortir de chez soi, de rompre avec les habitudes, de partager un moment agréable.

Le concert est gratuit et ouvert à tous, sorte d'épilogue de la fête de la musique.

Depuis 2 ans nous accueillons ainsi une centaine de spectateurs, pour un moment ou pour toute l'après-midi, à l'ombre des arbres de ce superbe endroit qu'est la cour de l'ancien cloître.

Cette année, pour les participants qui le voudront, il sera possible d'enchaîner avec le vernissage de l’exposition de Martine MAUX à la galerie du Fort (cf flyer 2). Photographe, elle met en scène des fruits et des légumes.

Enfin, puisque France Alzheimer adresse régulièrement des messages sur l'importance de l'alimentation pour la santé en général et la prévention de la maladie en particulier, nous relayons aussi l'invitation à la conférence du 29 juin à 18h au Fort: "Le bio, c'est bon ?" animée par Lucie CHAUDEURGE, diététicienne (affichette 3).


Bien cordialement,





05 63 20 47 64

nous sommes le vendredi vingt trois juin

Dear Val & Malcom, 
Please post. 
We have a plot of land in Milhars which is about in acre in size and which is securely fenced and easily accessible from the road.  Due to aging bones the upkeep is difficult for me and this is an appeal for help.  Just over  half is hay –still standing, and the rest mixed woodland. There are 3 pine trees cut down 2 years  ago and ready to burn or to make into rustic furniture etc.  There could be others as the pines were planted as sacrificial  companions for the oak and other broad leaves which no longer need their shelter. Is there anyone reading this  who would like to take the wood and  the hay and /or put a couple sheep in this field until the end of the summer? There is shade and if you can provide a suitable drinking vessel I will keep it full of water.  I am open to good ideas and polite suggestions. 
Love, Sally.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Nous sommes le jeudi vingt deux juin

Driving off to Caen today for a week in the UK
We were delighted to see our three young kestrels safely fledge before we set off.

Empty nesters

Here the baby kestrels have flown the nest. We found them on the garden path at about 7pm last night and they soon flew unsteadily into the donkey field.
One little bird stayed around long enough to be photographed before following his siblings.
Where am I?
Trying out these wings
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Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Missing cat

Hello Val,
Would you be kind enough to add the photo of our cat that went missing couple of weeks ago from a couple of kms south of Montirat . It's possible that she is living in someones barn. She's timid, small and called Kitty-Kat. Any sighting, please call 06 78 51 23 43.
Kind regards
Steve & Jackie Dowling

Jazz at Sautou

Contact us for reservations.

Fete de la musique

21st June marks the "official" start of  summer here (in the middle of a week of 35°C temperatures!). It is also the longest day and the "Fete de la musique". There are musical events throughout the country including many in our area. Let us know if you are going to a concert.
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Nous sommes le mercredi vingt et un juin

So hot and respecting Ramadan, so not eating or drinking in daylight hours, the young men are still keen to continue with their French lessons. Two local teachers are going in to the CADA when they can( both have children and work) helping the young men. They know learning the language is essential to their life here.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Not long before they leave now

Such a pleasure to watch our kestrels, the babies now stay at the opening whilst I talk to them.
Probably say  to each other " she does go on a bit!"
The wonder of nature on your doorstep

note in your diaries

Violent fire near Collioure

Canadair -library picture
Violent scrub fires erupted yesterday in the hills around Collioure, near to the Spanish border. Aggravated by strong winds the fire spread quickly and the roads in that area made access difficult for the  100 or so pompiers.
Despite use of water-dumping Canadair aircraft over 10 hectares were burned.

Heatwave effects

part from trying to keep cool and risking sunburn are there any other effects of the "canicule"?
This image seems to think so

Nous sommes le lundi vingt juin

Monday, 19 June 2017

Broome Rapes

Hi Val
You may have noticed that Broome Rapes are in full flower at the moment, especially alongside tracks on the Causse.
These are parasitic plants with no chlorophyll, relying on their host for nutrients.
According to a friend who is an expert, but has only seen the photo, this one is probably Orobanche Amethystea.

Brexit negociations under way

The formal negotiations began today in Brussels. The EU commission has set up a page in its website detailing what its position is, publishing documents transmitted to the UK and the other 27 members.
They can be downloaded as pdf files and read at leisure. For those of us committed enough here is a link

Not such a big win as predicted

Odd these election results. Macron's party En Marche! has a convincing overall majority, with 350 of the 577 seats, but of the other parties only the Front National and La France Insoumise, the two extreme wings, increased their representation, to 8 and 27 respectively. The socialist party and their allies went down to 44 (having been the majority in the last government) and Les Republicains now have 137.  But given the dire warnings of Macron winning over 450 seats commentators are now saying the victory is not as big as expected, so some amount of re-balancing has taken place. Inevitably there are calls for a change to the electoral system by Le Pen and Melenchon to introduce some kind of proportionality. But the rate of abstention at over 50% is the main concern.
As noted elsewhere, Tarn and Garonne resisted the Macron onslaught by re-electing both its retiring members, one Socialist and one Parti Radical Gauche, whose Sylvia Pinel was a minister in the last government.
Other notable points are that there are over 220 women representatives, a record compared to 155 last time and only 178 members were re-elected. This will definitely be a new look assembly.
comments to

Nous sommes le lundi dix neuf juin

The Mayor of Varen celebrating last night with victorious PS candidate for the first T&G "circonscription",  Valerie Rabault,
pictures by Nadyne Vern Frouillou

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Pond lillies and fish need good home

Hello Val
Do hope you and Malc are well.  We have a pond in our garden with around 15-20 yellow, red and black fish.  The pond is becoming very overgrown with yellow irises and water lillies - very pretty - but as we have plenty of other jobs to do in the garden, we've decided to fill it in.  We'd like to give the fish away, obviously no charge and are very happy to give the lillies and irises away, too.
Contact details:
Yvonne Machin
Would you please advertise the above for us.  It goes without saying that we will make a donation to one of your chosen charities.
Thank you.
Val says noncharge for rehoming pets

A great building

Readers will be familiar with this iconic building, originally called la Maison Seguier, a hunting lodge for the counts of Toulouse built in Cordes sur Ciel in 14th century. For over 30 years it was the restaurant of Yves Thuries, the local chocolatier and the first Michelin starred chef in the area.
In its heyday the restaurant welcomed many famous French politicians such as Mitterand and Pompidou as well as foreign dignitaries such as the Emperor of Japan and the Queen Mother.
Closed in 2010 as a result of a case of misrepresenting the origin of truffles (a charge later dropped) the restaurant remains in beautiful condition, ready to "open tomorrow" as M Thuries says. But he personally has no desire to resume there.
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Fatal air crash in Parisot

The small Tarn and Garonne village of Parisot was witness to an aeroplane crash yesterday. A light aircraft on a pleasure flight was forced to crash land in a nearby field, killing two of the occupants. Pompiers were alerted to the scene at about 18h (6pm) on Saturday, though the plane did not catch fire. More details at this link
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Nous sommes le dimanche dix huit juin

Our place is looking good and I have not even included the flower garden... but how much longer will we be able to keep up all the work looking after two houses and effictively three gardens? Two years ago we thought about selling and down sizing but changed our minds at the last moment. It is the most heavenly place to live this house in the sun but our time here is limited. 
I think it is this time of year we appreciate the beauty of the place but in our seventies find it increasingly difficult to keep up with all the gardening.
Certainly for now we enjoy the beautiful views and seeing the donkeys, kestrels, dogs and cats enjoying it with us.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Democrats abroad

It did look incongruous, but..

Watching the preliminaries to the France v England football match the other night it did seem odd that the brass band of the Republican Guard (drawn mainly from gendarmes) was fronted by a uniformed officer playing an electric guitar.
Jean-Michel Mekil: photo Franck Fife/AFP
As a tribute to the dead and injured in the UK terrorist attacks and in the Stade de France where a similar attack was thwarted on the day of the Bataclan atrocity, the band played the Oasis song "Don't look back in anger". Jean-Michel Mekil usually plays the trombone in the band, but is a great fan of Oasis and U2. The image of the chief sergeant, with his glasses, throat microphone and ear piece and military uniform was so far from "rocker" that it seemed incongruous. But his playing and singing, backed by the full band struck the right note with the 80000 strong crowd (including Macron and May).
Now he has been invited to play with his heroes when Noel Gallagher  and Bono head the list at the Stade on 25/26 July.
comments to

Nous sommes le samedi dix sept juin

Friday, 16 June 2017

A new Greek tragedy?

Not the recent payment of 8 billion euros from the European Central Bank to aid Greece's debt problem, but a call familiar to Britons - the return of Greek treasures to their rightful home. We have had the saga of the Elgin marbles which the British Museum claims are better preserved in London than they would be in Athens. But what would the Louvre be without the Venus de Milo?

Brought to France over 200 years ago the famous statue is one of the Louvre's greatest attractions, seen and photographed by hundreds of thousands of tourists each year. But the inhabitants of the Greek island of Milos would like her back. A petition has been launched hoping to gain enough support to force the Louvre to hand back the goddess. Some chance we reckon.
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Nous sommes le vendredi seize juin

Our baby kestrels are really growing, from fluffy bundles to getting their beautiful adult plummage.
They like to keep their nest clean and although at first the parents cleaned the nest, now the youngsters bring their backsides to the opening to project their pooh outside. Down the wall and onto the canoes stacked on the ground below! Easy enough to wash the canoes when they leave, probably in about a weeks time.
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Thursday, 15 June 2017

L'Ozoze being refreshed

Hi Val

Your readers may have noticed that Restaurant L‘ô’Zone is closed.

The façade is being repainted while Fabienne takes a well-earned holiday in Corsica.

She will be reopening next Tuesday 20th June.


Philosophy today

Not a magazine title, but the first paper in the Baccalaureat exams which start today for over 700000 students. Last year's subjects included "Are our convictions founded on experiences?" Saying "yes" or "no" will not gain you any marks, but arguments put for either answer must be balanced by the opposite view - simply to defend a pre-conceived position is not enough.
It is a pity that more of us take real (or reported or imaginary) experiences and project them into general convictions. Simple logic:"the terrorist was a muslim, therefore muslims are terrorists". But wrong.
Good luck to all the young folk we have met in the last couple of years who will be scratching their heads today.
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The fruit shines with health at Laguepie

Nous sommes le jeudi quinze juin

Man scarves always popular in France but expect to see more men sporting scarves now.
Macron our President of " En Marche" here " En Velo"

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

"Cousinade" explained

Last weekend Laguepie was littered with little orange arrows labelled "Cousinade", and pointing to the Escale Guepienne, a new name for the riverside complex previously used for colonies de vacance, the port nautique.
We and most of our compatriots had no idea what it meant. Was it to do with cooking? Perhaps sewing? No, it was more simple and heart-warming than that. A walk by the Aveyron revealed that people had come from far and wide to meet - their cousins. The family Roumiguieres were having a family get together and over 100 scions of the family, from 6 months old to 90 years young were there. What a great idea for the Pentecost weekend.
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Nous sommes le mercredi quatorze juin

Coming soon Martin's Jazz Band from Toulouse














 More info coming up

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Sad news of one of our own

So sad to read this news last night in the Depeche. This young brilliant young man our " sous prefect" in charge as one of his many duties of migrants, has taken his own life.
A young man of 34, married with 3 children, an exciting career ahead of him... why oh! why?
I met him when he came to welcome our refugees at Verfeil  and I heard with interest the great reports of him from the head of our CAO.Anais Rondeau.
Malc and I offer our condolences to his family and wish him peace in whatever life is beyond.

Florian Valat, secrétaire général de la préfecture de Tarn-et-Garonne ayant rang de sous-préfet de l’arrondissement de Montauban, s’est donné la mort ce matin à Paris.

Il était en poste à Montauban depuis le mois de mars dernier où il avait succédé à Jean-Michel Delvert nommé sous-préfet de La Flèche (Sarthe).

Le décès de ce haut fonctionnaire âgé de 34 ans, Parisien d’origine passé par l’ENA après avoir été inspecteur du travail dans le Bas-Rhin, a engendré une vive émotion en préfecture où cet homme, marié et père de trois jeunes enfants, était décrit comme une personnalité brillante et sympathique.

Dès sa prise de fonction à Montauban, Florian Valat s’était rapidement impliqué dans les gros dossiers tarn-et-garonnais où sa personnalité et son ouverture d’esprit en faisaient un interlocuteur respecté.

Avant sa nomination à Montauban, Florian Valat occupait depuis avril 2015 le poste de directeur adjoint de l’asile au sein de la Direction générale des étrangers en France, rattachée au ministère de l’Intérieur.

All French and Africans

So Traditional Occitane dancing cannot be to the taste for most of us British.
Sunday evening, a warm night and the centre of St. Antonin rang out to the foot tapping occitane tunes. We could see or hear no English voices and this was just like the bal at Caylus the previous month.
It may not be to our taste but to our young refugees they love it, Africans particularly love to danse.
I have to say as integration goes they are much better at it than all of us from the UK.
Learning French, joining groups, one young man playing in all the boule competitions and winning a few " sous"
I look at them sometimes knowing many of their sorrows and wonder at their resilience.
They ALL will be far more integrated than many of us here who stick to their groups of English speakers, far before we will be... but then before long they will have the right to be here and many of us will not have those same rights.
What prats many of us are