Sunday, 31 December 2017

Windy day for 2018

Despite this morning dawning bright and sunny, the wind is noticeable (if mild). But it may increase steadily and tomorrow quite damaging gusts may mark the afternoon and evening. A storm called Carmen is expected to sweep up the west coast, with severe gusts up to 120kph causing floods and damage. Here in the south west we should miss the worst (unless you are on a mountain top), but still may see 60-80 kph gusts.
As storm Dylan is battering the UK perhaps staying put might be the best way to welcome 2018.
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Grainy dawn

Sorry about grainy nature of this photo, but you see the red sky, the mountain silhouette and mist in the valley. Really needs a painter's eye to capture it, not a telephoto lens.

No book swap tomorrow

The book swap will be on Monday 8 th.
The Gazpacho will be closed tomorrow morning and many of us will be having a lazy morning after partying.
Last night we went with a mixed group of young men Afghans and Africans to watch Paddington 2 at the Queryls in St. Antonin. It was a great success with all, the laughter with a touch of tension was just what was needed and we all came out in really happy moods. If you have not been you should go, it was for us all a joyful moment in a sometimes stressful life.
I went around Varen yesterday at the market wishing everyone " bonne année ", apparently one should wish " bon fin d'année" until tomorrow.

Nous sommes le dimanche trente et un decembre

Beautiful views down to Varen this morning and to the left ( not in this shot) views of the Pyrenees.

Saturday, 30 December 2017

Valet parking at Toulouse airport.

A reader reccommends this company at the airport in Toulouse. They meet you in the car park and valet park your car undercover, then meet you on your return. It saves time and is a euro cheaper than the undercover terminal car park.

French rugby in chaos

The French rugby XV has not been in such a parlous state for years: rated only 10th amongst leading nations the search for success has led to former Toulouse legend Guy Noves losing his job this week.
Failure to mount any realistic challenge in the Six Nations in recent seasons, plus an autumn series of internationals showing the team's paucity made the decision inevitable. Oddly, the reason given for the sacking is "serious misconduct", which Noves contests, saying no details have been provided.
He has been replaced by Jacques Brunel, previously of Auch and Perpignan plus having been a selector for Italy.
Rumour has it that Noves's days were numbered when his arch-rival Bernard Laporte was elected as head of the French rugby federation and only an excuse was needed to fire the Toulousain. Brunel will be "assisted" by other Laporte acolytes, notably Fabien Galtier.
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Nous sommes le samedi trente decembre

One the hunters did not get in a private garden

Chemical leak in Septfonds

A faulty pump at a Septfonds service station led to 1500 litres of fuel additives being leaked into the a stream into the Daudou.
Pompiers from several stations built barriers from straw to mop up the chemicals, but environmental officers have reported fatalities in fish and other water born species.
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Friday, 29 December 2017

"That will do nicely"

Using your credit card for shopping is usual nowadays, but it isn't usually asked for during a burglary. But in one of those "incompetent criminal" stories that is what enabled gendarmes in Ariege to dismantle a network of burglars.
During a robbery of an agricultural store one of the perpetrators "forgot" his credit card. Grateful gendarmes soon had him under arrest and the capture of his six accomplices soon followed. Searches of their premises revealed an Ali baba's cave of stolen goods, coming from over 30 burglaries.
The seven will appear in court in January
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Out of this world

Astronaut exhibit
The Cité d'Espace in Toulouse has broken its record for attendance in 2017, with over 400,000 visitors. Boosted by improvements to some of the exhibits, such as the planetarium and the interest generated by the French astronaut Thomas Pesquet, the numbers rose by 20% this year. In fact the day that Pesquet returned to earth, followed live at the museum, over 18000 visitors were in attendance.
Most visitors are French, with about 40% from the Toulouse region (school trips accounted for 55000 visitors). We did visit some 10 years ago, on a particularly wet summer's day and our guests would have benefitted from guided tours in English, no doubt rectified these days.
The museum details are on its web site at 

Avalanche risk in Pyrenees

Those of you aiming to go skiing in the mountains over the New Year are warned that there is a serious risk of avalanches. Several ski resorts have been closed since Thursday, after heavy snow and gale force winds earlier in the week, followed by rain on Thursday. The risks are enough to trigger orange alerts in several departments.
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Nous sommes le vendredi vingt neuf decembre

Wind and rain forecast for the next few days taking us into 2018
We do have memories of the summer with these photos taken by Anne- Maria Dammermant
in St. Antonin.

Thursday, 28 December 2017

Dog/kennel / sitter wanted

Hi Val

do you or anyone in the network know of Kennels for our 1 year old blue staffie Lola for the week beginning 7th January for a week. We have to make an  unexpected journey and can’t take her with us. Obviously if there is someone who would take her in for the week, we would be happy to pay for her accommodation.

many thanks

Karen and Rog
Val says: I have sent details of Phillippe Boudet at St Cirq. Any other ideas in St Antonin area? 

Bonjour chère Val,

For a good dogkennel look at: 

Kind regards,

Marjolijn Wesdijk

Nous sommes le jeudi vingt huit decembre

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Albi market a hit

The first truffle market to be held at Albi took place on Sunday, Christmas Eve. The stocks of black gold were soon snapped up at 900 euros the kilo. Many of the sellers were from the burgeoning production around the traditional area of Villeneuve-sur-Vere, but this was the first time a market had been held in Albi's covered market. The market is now expected to be every Sunday until the start of February.
Most of the producers will as usual join their colleagues from the Lot for the major market at Lalbenque, but welcome a new outlet for their stock.

Nous sommes le mercredi vingt sept decembre

Ten o clock and we are relaxing, still in our jim jams, with nothing in the agenda.
The dogs are exhausted with the festivities and the donkeys have been fed by one of our boys.
We will take our three in the gite  to be with African friends at Verfeil and then we will read books and relax. 
Bit of a miserable day but to be honest when we are hunkered down with our books I do not think it will bother us.
As well as partying Christmas is about relaxing
Relaxez- vous ( good bit of franglais)

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Bilou is missing / just found in Lez where he used to live as a street dog years ago

Bilou is missing, not been home for 2 days which is not like him. He is chipped and has his telephone number on his collar. Anke who lives in the commune of Varen, up the road tonSt. Martial asks that we keep a look out for him.

Old friends and new

Life is never dull at our house
Old friends and new on Christmas day
We ended up with a proper Christmas 
lunch with old “ Brit” friends followed in the evening by a traditional Sudanese halal meal.
Around the evening table we had boys from Sudan, Guinea, Senegal, Cameroon.
 We will probably not need to eat again this week.
Bonny was stuffed!
Hope you all had as much fun. Thanks for coming and sharing everyone.
Mobile phones should be banned but connections with any existing family or friend is important to these lads.

Nous sommes le mardi vingt six decembre

Great Christmas presents from our daughter and family in Henley. 
Designed by Katherine Hamnett, profits to refugees.
Hope you all  had a fun day.

Monday, 25 December 2017

Nous sommes le lundi vingt cinq decembre

Peace and joy to you all. 
Reach out to someone else seems to be the message at the moment, watching BBC TV that is the message of the moment. 
The Pope's message was to help migrants.
Thinking of others whoever they are, wherever they are. 
We cannot be with close family but we have friends and our boys here with us today. 
We are expecting some fun. 

Sunday, 24 December 2017

Have you seen Buster around St. Antonin / found after two nights away

Buster - large black dog with a beard, red collar (with phone number on it) and a white chest. He's quite shy but might come to you if you call his name. Mobile number is 06 04 18 93 02.
His owner is very worried

Nous sommes le dimanche vingt quatre decembre

Happy Christmas to all our readers

The picture of snow was taken at Mas del Sol on Christmas Eve in 2010. Picturesque, but made travelling from up here well nigh impossible for a few days. The robin was photographed here last week, but between them they make a very seasonal looking Christmas card, sending our best wishes to all our readers, wherever you may be.

Saturday, 23 December 2017

Verfeil is the place

Do you have a house or apartment in Verfeil and need someone to be the guardian for the winter months. Someone who has gardening skills, has a job working in local gardens. Has skills as a mechanic and is an obsessive home cleaner. 
We have a friend looking for a place, gardening is not well paid so he would be willing to do jobs and pay electricity and water bills for free rent.
He stayed with us for a year and the gite has never been so clean, the gardens never so neat. We can recommend him very highly. He does not smoke and is not a drinker.
Verfeil would be ideal as his new job he starts soon would be near the village
Contact me if you can offer a place or know of someone I could contact.

Expensive gesture

When a police helicopter was looking for a burglar over a Toulouse suburb a young man took exception to the noise and gestured with a "doigt d'honneur" at the crew and compounded matters by dropping his trousers and mooning at the craft. Prosecuted for insulting persons in authority, the prosecution revealed that the helicopter crew had use of an ultra high resolution camera and were able to identify the felon.
The lawyer representing the aggrieved policemen said it could be regarded as funny, but when such attitudes and gestures are a daily occurrence the humour wears off. The defendant, aged 19, was sentenced to three months in prison and ordered to pay 300 euros compensation to the gendarmes.
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Nous sommes le samedi vingt trois decembre

A reader has asked if the St. Antonin market will be on tomorrow. I am pretty sure it will be and I am going to go with our three new boys. It will be their first time at this market and I am expecting it to be busy and very Christmassy.
Are you doing well helping Father Christmas to choose presents?

There is a room at the inn

Thanks to a mother of four young children a familiar rough sleeper at Castelsarrasin will be spending his Christmas in a local hotel room. The SDF (sans domicile fixe) called Gregory was well known to people in the town centre as he slept in various locations, including under a bridge over the canal. Described as always friendly and cheerful and clean and presentable, Gregory won the sympathy of Angelique and her children who launched an internet appeal to fund a room for Christmas. Over 60 people contributed over 1000 euros to pay for the room that Angelique had reserved.
These acts of generosity remind us that the spirit of Christmas extends to all and can come from us all.
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Friday, 22 December 2017

Guess what? It's winter

Meteo France takes 21st December as the official start of winter (unlike the Met Office in the UK which appears to use 1st December). But 21st December is also the winter solstice, the shortest day following the longest night. So imperceptibly at first the days are getting longer; 4 seconds added today, 10 tomorrow and 16 by Sunday. Historically the winter temperatures have varied from -20º in 1985 to 29ºC in 1960. Current temperatures are apparently normal for the season and winter is forecast to be mild and warmer than average in the southern part of France. Winter will end on 21st March.
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Nous sommes le vendredi vingt deux decembre

The days are flashing past with so much still to do.
Lots of ill health with family at home, so for those family who read TAG I wish everyone better health and anyone suffering ill health here, our good wishes for speedy recovery.

We have news that the refugee centres at Bruniquel and Verfeil will close and a larger centre accomodating  50, including families will open the middle of January near Parisot.
There will be a lot of work to do moving present boys from the two centres and we are told it will be the only welcoming centre in Tarn and Garonne.
I will post a list of things we will need in January. As the building was before a holiday centre it may have beds and some furniture but we are not sure exactly yet what it will need. The government rents or buys the building but as always it is benevolves who furnish everything needed in side.
One thing I know the boys will need is bikes, so if you have a serviceable bike please offer it please. 
if it is not in use.

We have some hay being delivered anytime so I must dash off.
Have a good day

Thursday, 21 December 2017

Just the best news

The happiest Christmas post ever.
After worrying for months that the Dublin convention would have our boys being sent back principally to Germany or Italy, We, the boys, the staff and benevoles are delighted that the fingerprints in the New Year will no longer be valid and the boys will at last be able to put in their asylum applications here in France.
It is the sort of Christmas present that means one has a chance to be safe with a new life.
Not many of us can understand exactly what this would mean as we are mostly secure in our nationality and safe lives.
Last night we had a cinema evening here at Mas del Sol and it was great to hear the relief and pleasure that asylum applications could go forward.
Lives were being planned and as I have heard many times before, one boy told me this.
"you stop running when you feel safe. I love this French village life where everyone is kind and seems to care about me, and I want to live my life like this without fear"
Our boys feeling safe and getting their chance to apply for asylum, well we need no better present.
It has taken months but our summer days are going to roll to winter months .... all safe

Nous sommes le jeudi vingt et un decembre

Christmas shopping in Villefranche and these young men and I know who is Pere Noel
Thank you Malc for all your care and thoughtfulness to our local refugees this year.
Our life has been one of team work and what a great team we are, writing TAG together, running our boys around for interviews or medical care, walking dogs. Happy christmas Malc and a really great 2018 wished for you.
Thank you.

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Nous sommes le mercredi vingt decembre

Dry morning with no fog or mist, at least up here, nearly top of the hill.
Today is the day we got and do a " big Christmas shop" We have decided to go to Villefranche to what was HyperU but now Carrefour. The same as St. Antonin but four times the choice.
I am hoping French friend Samira will get me some halal chicken for the boys and then for Christmas day we can have a traditional meal with an African one, all on the same table.
Starting to feel Christmassy after doggy play group or as one owner says here dog calls it " Fight club"
Seeing all the dogs running and play fighting is a joy, most of the dogs are rescues and to see how they have progressed in the group is lovely.
Is there anyone who lives here who does not have a dog or cat?

Parti Socialiste sells its HQ

Rue de Solferino in Paris's smart 7th arrondissement has been synonymous in recent years with the headquarters of the Parti Socialist. Party management, policy meetings, selection of candidates, running election campaigns have all been orchestrated from the 3000 m2 office block.
And with some success: two presidents, several prime ministers, nationwide local governments. Until the disastrous 5 years under Francois Hollande. Failure to live up to promises, the president's own behaviour and a failure to grasp grass root concerns exploited by both far right and hard left, leading to internal divisions have effectively destroyed the party in this year's elections.
The building has been sold to a property developer known to build commercial centres in various European countries for around 45.5 million euros. What debts and mortgage payments the party will need to pay off may well erode that sum from the coffers.
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Father Christmas takes over[newsletterquotidienne]-20171220-[lesimages/image0]

This link shows a "dash cam" (or a helmet cam in this case) taken by a Parisian motor cyclist when out on his bike dressed as Father Christmas. Riding through the Rue de Rivoli he saw a car run a red light and knock down a pedestrian, then failing to stop. Pere Noel gave chase to the car, stopping it on several occasions, but to no avail as the driver drove off, ignoring red lights. Eventually he alerted two moto police who had more success in stopping the recalcitrant driver.

Monday, 18 December 2017

Concert in Laguepie

Sorry for the slight loss of sharpness in the poster, but no doubt the concert will be right on song.

Round the world in 42 days

Gabart's Trimaran Macif
The French sailor Francois Gabart has broken the world record for sailing single-handed round the world. Arriving off the coast of Finistere in the early hours of Sunday morning Gabart had sliced over 6 days off the previous record, set last year. In fact last year's record set by Thomas Colville had smashed the previous time by 8 days (set in 2008). So these French sailors have taken nearly two weeks off the record in just twelve months.

Nous sommes le lundi dix huit decembre

Wet it might be but we have no snow forecast for at least the next 10 days.
My donkeys are like me, they do not like the rain. I have ordered them a new batch of straw to make their stable piled high with straw and keep them cosy and warm. I will take a photo if it makes a nice Christmas scene.
Dashing out doing a furniture delivery with the boys. Malc is in charge of TAG this morning and pet duties.
Keep warm everyone

Sunday, 17 December 2017

Nous sommes le dimanche dix sept decembre

What a marvellous evening last night at FET, Friends of the English Theatre  at Les Cabannes.
In my opinion  just the best performance this year given by Jonathan Guy Lewis in " I found my horn"
Malc is going to write the review but I have to say just how much we have enjoyed that theatre since it opened as FET. 
A lot of work must go into making it all run so smoothly and I want to thank everyone involved for their commitment in making these evenings run seemingly without hitch.
Thank you to the committee and friend Jane Wallace for agreeing to have a collection for refugees and 
also a thank you to Meredith Wheeler who I know through her strong association with Democrats Abroad. I think she is the President of this group in SW France. 
She lobbyed for a collection after the show and the committee agreed to have a collection for refugees. Meredith also works collecting for refugees in Toulouse so I was very touched when she told the committee she would like all the money to come to me and our new Association "Mains Tendues 82"
Great evening, great show, great start to Christmas.... and when we counted up the cash on getting home we had 540 euros! ( wow!)

Saturday, 16 December 2017

Tomorrow at Parisot

New minimum wage

The official minimum wage - the Smic - will be increased by 1.24% from January 1st 2018. The gross hourly pay will be 9.88 euros, net 7.83€. Many of us who employ people for odd jobs or household chores will find that a ludicrously small amount per hour, but we should bear in mind that we should be paying an amount for charges on top of the hourly rate (not the case for registered tradesmen who are self employed). This can be done via the cheque emploi scheme or its on-line equivalent, and is reduced for over 70 employers.
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Nous sommes le samedi seize decembre

The hardware shop in St Antonin “Quincaillerie du Val” has been re-opened this week as “Bazar Balou” by the new owner Françoise Fournier.
When her husband Laurent Fournier, nicknamed “Balou” had to give up his work as locksmith and skilled metalworker after a serious back operation last year, they vowed to take over the hardware shop which was struggling.  Laurent died suddenly in May but Françoise decided to honour that vow in memory of her husband and after six months of battling bureaucracy and learning the new business she has given up her job as administrative assistant at the nursery school and opened Bazar Balou in the Place du Pradel.
She will open Tuesday to Friday, 8 am to 12 pm and  2 pm to 7 pm and all day on Saturdays,. 8 am to 6 pm

I hope she does well. St Antonin needs a good hardware shop.
John Dawson

Friday, 15 December 2017

A Friday morning in St. Antonin

Photos taken by Paul Jack

Bar wars

Rue de Verdusse, Albi. Photo DDM
A story we commented on a while back had its culmination in the Albi tribunal this week. The owners of two bars opposite each other in a pedestrianised street leading to St Cecile in Albi have been more than commercial rivals for some years. Deliberately altering each others menu boards; insulting staff; encouraging customers to go elsewhere: these were almost weekly occurrences.
One night in August 2015 one bar closed early to "celebrate his daughter's graduation". Returning late to his premises he allegedly engaged in haranguing customers opposite and hit the manageress. This led the cook in the second bar to "defend" his patronne (and partner), but with a kitchen knife. The aggressor was stabbed and had to be admitted to hospital.
The court held that the response was not proportional and the stabbing had been deliberate, sentencing the cook to 3 months imprisonment, suspended. The victim of the stabbing was held to be 70% responsible for the incident, especially since he had come prepared with a length of thick electric cable "au cas ou". No doubt the saga will continue.
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Nous sommes le vendredi quinze decembre

Starting to build up to Christmas, so much shopping to do for little presents. So much food to buy... so little time.
I love the Christmas songs and jingles and all the Christmas pictures circulating, I love the feeling of good will to all men.
Malc and I are looking forward to spending more relaxed time with friends and the boys, our family here.
We have promised family at home we will go for Christmas next year but getting pet sitters at Christmas is never easy and the family cannot come here as the shop is open up to Christmas Eve.
It will be hands across the sea for us and the boys speaking on phones and skype to families around the world.

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Bus and train crash near Perpignan

A train and a school bus have collided near Perpignan in southern France, killing at least four children, the interior ministry says.

Another 24 people were reported to be seriously injured, in the accident on a railway crossing between Millas and Saint-Féliu-d'Amont.

The students on the bus are reported to be between the ages of 13 and 17.

Pictures from the scene showed the school bus sheared in two by the force of the crash.

Around 70 emergency workers and four helicopters were deployed as part of the rescue effort.

The crash happened on a section of line between Perpignan and Villefranche-de-Conflent, the local news website l'Indépendant reports.

10000 euro fine for setting fire

Not an arsonist responsible for the terrible forest fires suffered earlier in the year, but an irresponsible farmer convicted of "ecobuage". Remi Denjean is one of the hill farmers who burn their fields to clear them of stubble and weeds before replanting. Whilst the system is well known to be effective and even beneficial the smoke and CO2 generated is classed as a nuisance.
Ecobuage is allowed in certain circumstances, but notice must be given so that pompiers can be aware and the risk of uncontrolled fires be minimised.
M Denjean is vice president of the chamber of agriculture in Ariege and has been banned from public office for three years. The 10000 euro fine was suspended, and his permit to bear arms must be subject to renewal. Perhaps more to this story than meets the eye.
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Nous sommes le jeudi quatorze decembre

Very splodgy under wellington boots this morning.
I am always glad after rainy days that we made hard standing around the donkeys hut. I remember well going to feed them and losing wellies pulled off with a squelch.

I think today Cakes in France will be open in St Antonin and the nearby pie shop will be open as well  We have never been lucky enough to be there when it is open, but those who are regularly in St. Antonin tell me the pies and mince pies are great.
We have had such a busy week,  Thursday is our day. Out for lunch and then Malc plays bridge tonight.
Enjoy your day everyone.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Title for Gaillac

The Minister of Culture has designated Gaillac as a "Ville d'art et d'histoire" in recognition of the progress made to preserve and develop the architectural heritage of the town and its post-industrial progress.
The label is awarded to towns with historic heritage, be it artistic, architectural or industrial and who have made imaginative use of the heritage to keep it alive. Towns in the network can use each other's experience to find "best practice" methods of achieving their aims. Figeac has been similarly labelled since 1990 for the work done in its historic centre.

Nous sommes le mercredi treize decembre

Mains Tendues 82
Mains Tendues quatre vingt deux
Whichever way you say it, it sounds good, hands outstretched, helping hands, our logo gives the idea.
We are now at the stage all the bureau and conseil d'administration are in place and our Secretary can forward the articles to the Prefecture. We will be up and running by Christmas.
In January we will be opening in the Old Town hall on a Saturday morning to sell things at a good price,to accept good quality saleable material and the community as well as local refugees will benefit.
Without the help of the boys this would not work so well. Without payment they come and help me move furniture around and they are happy to help others who are helping them.
Come and support us in the New Year, it is going to be a great adventure.

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Look out for storage space for us in the area please.

We need storage space
This is our house, grange and pigeonnier. We also have a garage full in Varen
Some one must have a barn, garage or even space somewhere in the   Varen, Laguepie,  Verfeil area
Ask your neighbours, ask your friends, think of any empty buildings we can use
Thank you everyone
Our first meeting of Main Tendues 82 is tonight.

Nous sommes le mardi douze decembre

Thank heavens it is not raining this morning, but it is soggy out there in the fields.
Trees are rapidly losing their bronze and gold leaves and as I walk the lanes with the dogs there is a carpet of leaves and acorns.
I will start now telling you that the January book swap will not be the first ( too many of us in bed after late nights) but will be on the 8 th the second Monday instead. Put it in your diaries now the 8th of January, book swap.

Les Republicains elect new leader

The centre right party formerly headed by Nicholas Sarkozy has elected Laurent Wauquiez as its new leader. The 42 year old Lyonnais won the majority of votes cast in a three way contest against more centrist candidates, signalling a significant shift to the right. The party's Presidential candidate Francois Fillon was mired with a financial scandal and many members defected to Macron's En Marche! party.
Although Les Republicains polled better than the socialist party, its shift to the right to challenge the Front National on many of its policies leaves Macron firmly in charge of the centre right and his standing in the polls improving steadily suggests hard times ahead for M Wauquiez.
Senior Republicain figures such as Xavier Bertrand, Valerie Pecresse and Alain Juppe are thought to be unhappy at the development and may quit the party.
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Car for sale

For Sale

Ford S Max 2l Titanium, diesel, manual, RH drive, Blue

French Registered

First registered April 2009

Mileage 119,000 miles

Offers around 5,000 euros  NOW REDUCED TO 3,000 euros ono


We have had this car since it was 3 months old when we bought it as an ex-demonstrator from the Ford garage in Derby.

Basic features are Park Assist - Front and Rear Sensors, Electric Seats, Air Conditioning - CFC-Free with Dual Electronic Automatic Temperature Control (DEATC), Cruise Control, Voice Control System, Sony CD Audio System - Stereo Radio/CD/MP3, RDS EON, PTY, MP3 Capability, 40 Station Settings, Keycode Anti - Theft Coding, Advanced Bluetooth Hands-Free, Windows - Front and Rear, Electrically - Operated with One - Touch Lowering/Closing, Anti - Trap Feature and Global Opening/Closing, Quickclear Heated Windscreen, Alarm - Perimeter with Volume Sensing (Thatcham Category 1), Glass - Grey (Front Side Windows) / Privacy, Dark Tinted (Rear Side Windows), Autowipers with Rain Sensor, 18in Alloy Wheels and Locking Wheel Nuts. Witter detachable towbar. Left hand lights fitted but original RH drive lights available

It is due for a new cam belt at 120,000 miles and will need two new front tyres shortly. These will cost in the region of 800 euros in total. It does have a couple of dents but nothing serious and for all the time we have had the car it has had some electrical “gremlins”, sometimes the seat will change position or the radio will turn itself on or off and there is a message that comes up saying front lights malfunction when there isn’t one.  None of these things happen when the car is being driven and it hasn’t failed a Controle Technique because of it.  It has been a good run around for us for the past 8 years and still does around 43mpg.

Anne Grose 05 63 31 13 24

Monday, 11 December 2017

Bing,bang, bong

Or, if you prefer

Sing, sing, sing

Those of you who saw BBC Breakfast today may have noticed scientists have "proved" that singing is good for you - and singing in groups even more so. There are lots of choral groups in the area, singing every thing from Beatles to Bach and your sub-editor can attest to the enjoyment gained from joining in with Becky Brown's  "Voices" choir.
We have been reminded that this weekend there will be songs, both French and international in the market hall in St Antonin at 18h30 as part of Saturday's events organised by various cultural associations in the village.

Also in St Antonin is the  concert of more classical songs and music by Geof Cryer, Sally Bradshaw and Genevieve Foccroulle at 18h in the Mairie.
And I bet we come out of Le Colombier theatre singing (or at least humming) the theme from a Mozart Horn concerto after the show "I found my horn" ("gorn" - remember Flanders and Swann?).
All in all, something for everyone.


The editor did not have time to comment on the weather, and for most of us locally it is a dull, damp and relatively mild start. There are even "sunny intervals" forecast as the rain turns to showers.**
But for most of France there are weather warnings: snow; ice; high winds; flooding. Over 30 departments are on orange alert as storm Ana passes by in the north west. But the high ground may also suffer gale force winds, including most Pyrenean heights.
Meteo France says the depression is almost as deep as that of 1999, when millions of trees were destroyed. and a glimpse of our barometer this morning shows how the pressure has dropped.

There is little relief forecast this week and it may get more windy later in the week. So keep warm and safe.
** well  that was wrong for a start!

Nous sommes le lundi onze decembre

Have not even got time to discuss the weather. Getting everything sold ready to go for the coffee and mince pies  in St. Antonin at the Gazpacho.
Malc is taking boys for French lessons, yes the boys speak French who are with us but as two have never been to school they do not know how to read. We hope to help them learn. Being able to read is such a gift.
See many of you soon I hope
Ps did you watch " Blue planet" last night? what an amazing series. We now have to fight the horror of plastics in the sea and on the land for animals. Do not let balloons loose at events is one way to start. Lobby against this
"Lachez pas des ballons"
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Sunday, 10 December 2017

Fun and new friendships tomorrow

Please do not let these sad looking mince pies put you off coming tomorrow for coffee and mince pies at the Gazachpo
My mince pies are often “iffy”,
sausage rolls always good
But you know friendships are not about being the best cook but about caring for each other.
Hope to see a lot of you tomorrow for some Christmas fun and laughter and making new friends
Gazpacho, St Antonin,
 starting at 10.30 am

Free range turkeys

Hi Val! 
was wondering if you could mention that i am still taking orders for turkeys! 12€ a kilo between 5/6kg in wieght . contact me on 0616077539 or email or FB . Thanking you so much 
Sarah Meakin

St Sylvestre menu at La Seye et Vous

The menu will be (subject to availability)

Creme de lentille au fois gras

Cassolette de fruits de mer

Pintade aux marrons


Crepes façon Suzette
Menu 35 euros, including coffee.

Please contact Brice if you want a vegetarian option

Nous sommes le dimanche dix decembre

Mixed day in Albi

Yesterday afternoon we went to Albi for some shopping and to visit our friend Malik who is a student at the university. His tiny student apartment was crammed with books and computers, but we (and we were five) made ourselves comfortable whilst Malik rustled up a delicious meal of aubergines, onions, tomatoes, both as a hot dish and a salad. There was some reminiscing of the early days at Rehoboth and Montauban and discussions about the political situation in sub Sahara Africa.
Driving through Albi it was lovely to see the animated Christmas market and returning after sunset to see the illuminations in the city centre, but the morning there had been marked by a fire in an old building close to the Cathedral requiring pompiers to intervene. Happily our day was incident free.
Shoppers and tourists watch pompiers at work.

Saturday, 9 December 2017

That's a lot of baubles

Christmas trees traditionally are adorned with coloured glass baubles and those "made in France" are actually made in Tarn. At Carmaux the last factory still involved in the production of these decorations is in full swing making the 350000 baubles they make each year.
The firm specialises in the larger made to measure and personalised decorations wanted by large stores and public bodies (such as the "I love Laguepie" boules on the eponymous village's tree).
Competing with the Asian suppliers, the organisation ARY is more expensive, but offers virtually unbreakable products.
An interesting aspect of the firm is that it is part of the ASEI association, which employs handicapped staff wherever possible, so as well as providing welcome employment in the area, it an act of solidarity with a group who are so often ignored.
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Nous sommes le samedi neuf decembre

Beautifully sunny morning, I am enjoying sitting in a warm house with the panorama of the countryside in front  of me. 
I love that view.
Lots of Christmas markets one at Caylus today, one at Verfeil tomorrow.

We are recovering from a late night last night after a film and dance fundraiser at Verfeil for the refugees of Verfeil and Bruniquel. The salles des fetes was packed with people and the boys had prepared the food mainly vegetarian. The film was watched by the Mayors of Varen and Verfeil amongst others,  a local group singing, occitane dancing then the group playing loud dancing music, which went down well with the young men.
I got a thank you from the Mayor of Varen for my work raising money and presenting the local school with a cheque for 300 euros as well as donating a freezer for the use of the commune in the Salles de fete. 
A great evening but we are tired today.

Friday, 8 December 2017

Perfect little run about

Toyota Yaris VTR. 2002. RHD
Petrol engine. 106.000 miles
Controle technique until feb 2019
Good condition.  750 euros

Tel. Anne Johnston on 0563 67 88 40