Thursday, 31 May 2018

Put on your dancing shoes




le bal est suivi d'une auberge espagnole

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Back care workshops

Back Care Workshops, Najac 

Saturday 9th & 30th June 2018 €20  15.00 – 17.00

Learn how to:

  • reduce muscle tension and pain;

  • let go of unhelpful habits;

  • improve your posture;

  • increase your spine's suppleness;

  • enhance your health and well-being.

Reservations essential – 6 people max.

Lucy Ackroyd 06 16 26 24 84 / 05 65 29 76

Best laid plans of mice and men

Not going exactly to plan
Sam our daughter and granddaughter Annie came over to holiday  with us for a few days to get over the lightening strike.
As soon as they arrived Malc was taken into Albi hospital with a fever and today was having a blood transfusion and antibiotics as they try to discover the source of infection.
Not sure why we thought our plan of a holiday would work at the moment.
Malc’s spirits are high and he should be home sorted next week.
I think I will miss the book swap on Monday but we have a full team organised for Friday afternoon and Saturday morning at the Varen friperie.

Ballons et Bastides

Electro house

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Helping Wanda

Dear friends, 
I'm helping to raise money for a charity to help a local Gaillac lady called Warda who tragically had both hands and feet amputated after contracting a disease in hospital whilst being treated for something quite routine. As a part of her rehabilitation process she participated in various different sports. One of these included running using the blades that you see in the para-olympics . Apparently she was brilliant, the problem is that they cost 17 000€! Half of this sum has already been collected. Friends from the running club at Brens are having a fundraiser on Sunday the 3rd of June at the Pichery stadium in Gaillac next to the swimming pool. There are sporting events , food, drinks, tombola etc
If you would care to make a donation that would be great, it's a registered charity so 60% is refundable on your tax return. Cheques should be made out to  Athlé Brens Gaillac  if you wish to profit from the tax refund be sure to send a stamped addressed envelope along with your donation and the completed forms will be returned to you by post. Cheques in sterling are also excepted, You can send the Donations to me ....
Stuart Mckenna 
23 bis rue Grande Côte
81600 Gaillac
Any help will be greatly appreciated, please forward this mail to anybody who you feel may be interested in participating.
 Please feel free to come by on the day and meet Warda, she really is an amazing woman,and have a drink, cake or sandwich .
Thank you in advance
Stuart McKenna

Château de Bruniquel


Monday, 28 May 2018

Relax and lose your stress

Fri July 27th 10am to July 29th 5pm
Fri August 3rd 10am to August 4th 5pm
Fri August 10th to August 12th 5pm
Mon August 13rd 10am to August 15th 1pm

Antigymnastique® focuses on the entire being : body and mind are intertwined. Get rid of the contractions, stiffness, muscle and joint pain that exhaust you, shrink you and restrict your freedom. I will make you discover the benefits of this powerful body work :  improved mobility and muscle tone, decreased stress and muscular tension (back, neck, shoulders, etc.), improved ease of movement and coordination.

I welcome 6 people at a time, reservation required: 06 51 66 05 53

Brigitte Bruneau
Praticienne certifiée d'Antigymnastique

7 rue Médéric 94120 Fontenay sous Bois
148 rue de Charonne 75011 Paris
81170 Milhars
09 50 74 40 61 - 06 51 66 05 53 

Stages à Milhars : 27 au 29 juillet, 3 au 4 août, 10 au 12, 13 au 15 août -
C'est quoi ?

This happened at Ginals

Sunday, 27 May 2018

The poppies are in bloom

Poppies are everywhere, even along our grassy banks.

Saturday, 26 May 2018

Friperie went well, now to relax

A very busy morning at the Varen friperie where between us parents and Mains Tendues 82 helpers
 took nearly 500 euros.
I have to admit to being tired out but it is all worth it. Lovely to get back to our quiet oasis, enjoy the sun
 and have a swim.
A roast chicken bought on the market with free roasted potatoes will go down very nicely for supper.

Is it really that important?

Taglines has run the story of the "controversy" of whether the viennoiserie in our boulangeries should be called a "pain au chocolat" or a "chocolatine". As a source of humour it has a value - someone even published a map to show that North Korean missiles would not reach as far as the Gironde, the line of demarcation.
Now a local assembly member has proposed an amendment to the code rural to enshrine the name as having a regional and cultural significance. For Aurelien Pradie, member for the Lot, considers that the name signifies a local pride, historically founded in the Gascon region.
Now, as the Bard would probably have it, a pain au chocolat by any other  name tastes just as sweet. We will continue to ask for a chocolatine, but when our friends in the north visit they get served just as easily.
Frankly, as an assembly member M Pradie must have better things to do. I'm off for a coffee and croissant.
comments to

Friday, 25 May 2018

Coming in tired , a glass of wine and the sunset

Sitting in the bergerie, our little pool house relaxing after a really busy day. 
What better thing to do than watch the sun set.
The nightingales are starting to sing their special night time melodies and crickets sre beginning to join in.
How I love this special place, the house in the sun.

Great programme

All a buzz at Varen

Tomorrow the Varen friperie will be taken over by parents and children from the local school. Together Mains Tendues 82 and parents will be trying to raise money for playground equipment for the children. The parents want to start at 8.30 am selling cakes and articles from the shop so we have given them the keys and stalwart Sarah Brown and I will be there at 9 am, an hour earlier  than usual.
Tonight as the parents and children left school they came to help!! And with little children playing cache cache between the rails of clothes we realised us grannies were in for a fun but very tiring morning.
Come and support us, the market buzzes with a fish stall, vegetables, plants for the garden, roast chickens and paella and the famous Estabuffette.
I am sure the Mayor has promised to pop in, I am beginning to understand his grunts and when I spoke to him earlier  in the week he said yes and when I said how we were bringing people into the market he definitely said “ well done”
Terence Harker from Verfeil is throwing in his cap with us now he has retired and will become our Press and Publicity officer. A welcome addition to the team.
So much new stuff brought in today, and you know we only do quality... Sarah as well as being our treasurer  is our quality control person
Mains Tendues 82 nothing but the best but at a price that makes people happy.
See you tomorrow, 👌

Who sells hatching chickens eggs?

Does anyone know anyone who sells hatching chicken eggs. I am looking for bantam, silkies, pekins or frizzles.
Thank you

Blue flag - for Laguepie

The coveted Blue Flag scheme awards the accolade to communes and ports making the greatest efforts in cleanliness and water quality in their tourist attractions. Normally we associate these awards with seaside beaches, but they can also grace inland waters and rivers.
Locally the lakes at Monclar and Molieres have been sporting the blue flags for some time, but in 2018 two new water parks have been added to the list in Midi Pyrenees - Montcuq (Lot) and our very own Laguepie.
Taglines has featured the efforts made by the commune on the Viaur with inflatables, lifeguards, astroturf covered banks and a brand new toilet block. Now a favourite haunt for the young holiday makers, together with the new picnic tables and safe paddling areas for the toddlers, Laguepie on Viaur fully deserves its accolade.
We also understand two new restaurants will be opening this summer to add to the Deux Rivieres so "Laga" will be more attractive than ever to the tourists.
comments to

Thursday, 24 May 2018

Fêtes Médievales de Cordes sur Ciel

Supporting refugees

Mirror and bed both 10 euros

Hello Val,
I have the following items that I would like to find new homes for. I was hoping you could put them on the website. I would be happy for you to sell them at the friperie but they would be hard to get them there and display them.
Best Wishes,

I. Mirror, 262 cms tall x 70 cms wide
This mirror has a custom made steel frame and the mirror seems to be glass, not acrylic.
The finish on the steel is rust which must have been intentional as there is no sign of paint.
The frame could be reworked if you want a tall mirror but prefer a different look.
10 euros

The bed also 10 euros
Money to Mains Tendues 82

Electric cooker in good condition

An electric cooker in good condition. 30 euros. Proceeds to Mains Tendues 82

Pain at the pump

Readers will have noticed that fuel prices have risen to the highest levels since 2012. According to the Ministry for the Environment the average price of diesel is now 1.46 euros and petrol 1.54 euros. This is due to world oil prices climbing for various political and economic reasons (OPEC reducing production, China wanting more oil, Venezuela - which has more reserves than Saudi Arabia - sinking into chaos).
Analysts do not expect much reduction in the near future, so we will all be leaving the car at home more and mowing the lawns less!
comments to

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

The sun at last

Profitez bien mes amies
Sorry today I have spent all day in the garden and pool, when you need to soak up the sun, listen to the cuckoo, today was the day.
Lawns cut, pool cleaned and today all is right with the world.... especially after a gin and tonic.
We had a bridge friend of Malcs here and he suddenly said “ your view is stunning”  We know that, we have enjoyed that view for 10 years.

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Lively Verfeil

hi Val
Verfeil sur Seye is a lovely, friendly village were everyone will help.  Unfortunately it has a reputation for not being a desirable place to live.  The reason 'WE HAVE YOUNG PEOPLE'.  One Immobilier refused to put our house on his books because of our address.  We bought our house 8 years ago as a 'habitable with restoration'.  Now restored it is far too big for 2 people and we have reluctantly put it for sale.  We fully intened to stay in the area but health issues mean that we have to be able to walk to shops, pharmacy, Doctor etc. as it is possible that in a few years time I will not be able to drive.

For those who turn their noses up at Verfeil I say "Come and look before you judge".

Hazel Armfield

Val says, you need to do a better sell,  Hazel. 

Verfeil is a lovely lively friendly village with boulangerie with shop, a good bar and restaurant, a garage and only 8kms to Varen which has all services.
Our house overlooks the interesting halle and with views over the beautiful countryside from the terrace at the rear.

Send me your house details and I will tell readers about your house. 
By the way we are often in Verfeil and love its friendly charm.
i cannot imagine an immobiler refusing to sell your property because “ there are young people” Other young people could be attracted by the fact it is a thriving village with families.

Yet 5 minutes away from Varen

I love this photo of our collection of buildings which makes up our home at Mas del Sol.
We are surrounded by the most beautiful countryside and yet so close to civilisation at Varen and Laguepie.
We went for location when we bought here, location, location, location. It has proved a wonderful choice giving us ten of the happiest years of our life.
Who could not be happy getting up to walk along the quiet lanes with orchids and wild flowers abounding. 
When we lived in Henley we both remember Paul Daniels the magician who was a regular in our book shop saying he had bought the worst house but on the best street. He had bought along the river banks in Henley along with Tom Jones and big starry neighbours. Sadly his house flooded each year and it was a joke when he came in to the shop in wellies that he had discarded his slippers for wellies in the home.
He loved where he lived though “on the best street”
Anyway Mas del Sol is not just the best street but the best location with views in every direction and not in a zone rouge, but we can see the river from one of the terraces down to Varen.

An interesting meeting

A facebook friend Bernard Petit originally from Verfeil who now lives in Montauban with his charming wife Daniele came out to the sticks at Mas del Sol to meet and greet us yesterday. They brought some donations for our friperie and their good wishes for our association.
Neither speak English so it was a pleasure to be able to use our French and for me get corrected from time to time.
We have got to know so many wonderful  people here in France. As all the French round about are related we discussed their cousins and other relatives who we know and some still live at Verfeil.

Monday, 21 May 2018

Opening 9am on Saturday the 26th

Samedi matin 26 nous ouvrirons le friperie à 9 heures
Tout l'argent pris ira à l'école du village local
S'il vous plaît venez et supportez tout le monde. Je crois que les parents des écoliers vont vendre des gâteaux.
Fermeture comme d'habitude au midi

Saturday morning of the 26 th, next Saturday we are opening the friperie in Varen at 9 instead of 10
All the money we take will go to the local school and parents will be there helping us and I believe there may be cakes.🍰🍩🍪

New controle technique rules from today

Today being a holiday here (Pentecost) the rules will come into force tomorrow. There will be more points tested and many more points of failure.
Vehicles tested will have three possible outcomes: 1 OK, minor faults need correction but no "contre-visite". 2 Major faults to be corrected in two months before a contre visite.  3 (and most controversial) dangerous faults which mean the vehicle may not be driven after midnight on the day of the test and faults corrected an re-tested in two months.
The tests may take 45 minutes, unlike the previous tests of about 30 minutes, therefore with fewer rdvs per day costs will go up, similarly for the contre visite.
The timetables remain unchanged, with the first test after 4 years then every two years. Vehicles being sold must have been tested within the previous 6 months.
Fines for not having a CT range from 135 euros to 750 euros for late payment.
comments to

Saturday, 19 May 2018

A huge step against racism done in style at the Royal wedding

I missed the royal wedding working at the friperie but caught up on the internet tonight.
What a truimph for love and inclusiveness the wedding seemed to be. It smashed all the racial hatred we have seen from the Uk and the likes of Donald Trump and the hated Farage Tories.
For Martin Luther King who would have been so proud I salute the young couple. They  have made it an easier world, a more inclusive world for my coloured boys to live in. 
Proud, brothers and sisters whatever the colour of your skin.
The biggest step forward in inclusiveness in a long time 
happened today.
Bless that young couple and wish them happiness and keep up the good work you wonderful pair

Portes Ouvertes

Friday, 18 May 2018

Just come in today at the Frip. / SOLD

Quality  curtains, fab material heavy and lined.
A pair 185 cms across by 260 length, each one
Such quality with matching tie backs.    100 euros
For Mains Tendues 82

Celebrating at Ginals

A wonderful afternoon for local restaurant owners Mark and Brice as they celebrated their wedding with local friends and the sun shone on us all
Thanks to Gareth Brown for the photo

More items to go

Hi Val

Hope you are both keeping well.

Thanks for your help with the sale of the furniture and publicising the vide maison.  The vide maison was really well attended and many things were sold.  I still have plenty of items for sale, and so would like to hold another vide maison next Wednesday 23rd May between 2 pm and 5 pm with some new items, some garden bits and pieces and some new prices.  This will then enable me to box up remaining items and deliver them to your shop on Friday afternoon.  It is gratifying to know that these cherished possessions will continue to be appreciated in other homes and other hands.

Thank you once again.

Best wishes

Un hiver avec les garçons

Le film de Cécile, "Un hiver avec les garçons" est sélectionné au festival “caméra des champs” à Villes sur Yron, près de Metz !

Local film maker Cécile followed the progress of our first  refugees when they came to St. Antonin.
The  documentary film is one chosen to be in this international festival.
The picture with the boys was at our golden wedding anniversary where we presented all the boys with a tricolour to pin to their  jackets. Worked well as the Prefect made a visit that afternoon.

St. Antonin demain

contes jeune public à partir de 4 ans
médiathèque de Saint Antonin Noble Val
(réservation par mail ou au 05 63 68 22 34)

Il était une fois - Once upon a time.

Once upon a time - Il était une fois.

Ici en France - On parle Français,

Mais chez moi, on parle anglais !

Il était une fois - Once upon a time.

Once upon a time - Il était une fois.

Les chiens parlent chien.

Les loups parlent loup.

Et si seulement,

On pouvait parler tout !

Il était une fois - Once upon a time.

Once upon a time - Il était une fois.

Grâce à la musique, au chant de ritournelles et comptines écrites spécialement pour ce spectacle, les enfants se familiarisent avec les sonorités d'une autre langue. Très vite, ils utilisent l'anglais dans une participation spontanée. Le loup devient "Wolf" et Spider répète sans cesse "I'm a brave spider ! Je suis courageuse!". 

Chaque fois que Rabbit ne voit que "de l'herbe, de l'herbe, partout de l'herbe, ", les enfants répondent ; "Grass, grass,grass. Bah! I'm hungry !".

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Wedding at Ginals Mairie

My outfit has the special label Mains Tendues 82 and cost me 5 euros. the hat is on loan from Mains Tendues for 1 euros and will be returned tomorrow.
At least three people at the wedding in Ginals were wearing MAINS Tendues 82 labels and it was a very small guest list.
Beautiful afternoon with beautiful people very much in love.

Table and bed must go today


Single bed 2 m x 90 cm - €50
Bedroom side table approx: 1.2 m x 30 cm - €20
Both in excellent condition.

I am posting this on behalf of Erik and Harma as they no longer have internet connection here....
They leave St Antonin permanently on Friday and must sell these by the end of tomorrow, Thursday, as the buyers of the house don’t want them.
I am sure that the bed can be dismantled to go in a car or on a roof rack.

Please contact Erik on his mobile: 0031 629 458 857

Hi Val
Thanks for putting that on straight away.
I just saw Erik and Harma and unfortunately Erik’s phone isn’t working so he asked me to change the number to Harma’s which is:
Can you change it.
The bed can be sold up to 11.00 a.m. tomorrow.
If it is not sold they are happy to give it to you for the charity but the problem would be for someone to fetch it and so on.


The school will benefit

Saturday the 26th of May all our profits (and everything we take is profit because of donations)will go to the local Varen village school which has children from Laguepie, Arnac as well as Varen. We are hoping for a consolidated effort with parents and children helping to make it a bumper morning.
I do believe cakes will be on sale... yummy cakes.
The Varen frip is doing really well and it is satisfying when so many market stallholders come and tell us how much busier the market is being since we have been in the old town hall.
We are open of course this coming Friday 15h to 17h to take in donations and  Saturday 10 till midi we will be open selling fast and furiously.
It may only be 2 hours but we are busy. If you want to come and join the team you will be welcome, “ extra hands make light work”
And you will be pleased to hear that we have all lights working in both houses now.

Getting warmer folks

For us who have been in France for many years we can tell newcomers that the wet winter and spring have just not been typical.
We have missed the blus skies just when I feel Malc and I particularly have needed them.
Today one can feel the temperature rising and we are hoping for a sunny afternoon as we are of to a local wedding. 
How often do you get a wedding to enjoy here?
Have a lovely day everyone and start looking forwarding to drying out and getting some sunny weather.

Ramadan starts today for many of our friends

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Some of my boys, a year ago

One has asylum, the others still waiting for interviews. It is a long process of waiting and worrying. In between we have had happy times.
Yesterday Malc was having his 4th chemo in Albi, centre hopsitalier ( CH) whilst three of these lads put to rights all the mess from the damage of the lightning hit causing an explosion and a hole in the dependance wall. These boys came put on masks and hats against the dust and cleared and cleaned both levels of the barn / dependance. At the end I offered them money to buy roll your own cigarettes but they refused saying “we do it because  we love you Mamma” Of course that had me in tears.
Give love and you get it back.
and Malc returned after a sleepy day being pumped with toxic drugs, too sleepy to know how he really felt.

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Gas barbecue for grabs / SOLD WITHIN SECONDS

For Mains Tendues 82  sale 100€ BBQ gas with grill,small grill,plancha and side burner. Protection cover. To be picked up at Verfeil sur Seye. Money will go to Val Johnstone
Terence Harker

FET Sat 26th May

47 ROSES, A LOVE STORY Saturday 26th May at 8pm

Writer and performer Peter Sheridan conjures up the voices, sights and songs of his 1960's childhood in Dublin in a powerful coming-of-age story that examines the complicated relationship between his father and mother and a family friend, Doris.

Part memoir and part detective story, peopled with deliciously eccentric characters and wonderfully bizarre incidents, this acclaimed one-man show, directed by Maggie Byrne, is both brilliantly funny and intensely moving.

★★★★ Peter Sheridan has remade the lost world of sixties Dublin in this knock-out memoir, a gently powerful act of memory and love. Sebastian Barry

★★★★ Peter Sheridan writes at the crossroads where hilarity and heartbreak, tenderness and savagery meet.  The people who live there are often cruel, often magnificent, and always, always human.  He captures them perfectly.  Roddy Doyle
The bar will open at 7pm and the performance will start at 8pm.

To book your tickets, please email:

€15 Non-Members €20


NB: your reservation will only be confirmed on receipt of your cheque

Ruth Etridge FET Secretary

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Pétanque at Le Riols

Saturday 19th of May
 Pétanque en doublettes, starting at 14h30
Followed in the evening by a repas, frites saucisse

Tie bonanza. Photos by Gareth Brown

Fabulous silk ties, never worn, from a silk tie collector. Available in the friperie at Varen for 5 euros each, great presents or possible use in creative patchwork.

Saturday, 12 May 2018

Sorry to be out of touch for so long

We are now fairly contactabable!
We have no phone line or internet and all our lane is in the same plight but we are managing with various devices.
Our neighbours suffered the same fate with the lightening strike and we both are waiting to have all our houses with electricity restored.
It will probably be weeks if not months restoring equipment and glad at this point to hopefully have good insurance.
All pretty terrible and it was frightening but the main thing is Malc continues to progress well and health is the most important thing.
Two years ago we were caught up in an earthquake  in Italy and now a severe lightening strike, we certainly are being tested.
Anyway slowly getting back to normal and Malc has his 4th chemo  on  Tuesday.
Take care everyone and if you hear a storm is on its way,  unplug all appliances... we certainly will in future.

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Hit by lightening

Just a quick message to friends and family as I sit in the bar at Varen. In the storm a couple of nights ago our houses were hit by lightening. A scary experience, without going into detail we lost power everywhere after explosions. Electricity sockets were blown off walls and in the dependance between the two houses a big explosion probably the site of real trouble ( electricity conducted down by the big sapin) the freezer was blown to bits, the explosion caused a big hole in the wall 
The house furtherest away the gite was least affected and now has electricity.
We are trying to find an electrician for our house ( holiday time)
Many appliances we are finding no longer work and blow up as we try them. It could be some time till we have phone and internet connection.
We are both fine and Malc is coping well.
Thank you to Gareth and Sarah for providing us with a generator until EDF came.

Monday, 7 May 2018

Lovely book swap with lots of good books

Thank you to David Graham for picking up and taking away the books and John Dawson for getting rid of some of the dud books for us.
Some new borrowers, hi to Christine and lots of happy people in the sun.
Bye bye to Laura and Sid off to pastures new, we wish you well and will miss you, salt of the earth  these two.
Welcome to those back after a  winter  in the Uk.

Last night, Hollywood at Mas del sol

We will never forget the French lady who sold us Mas del Sol saying, it is like Hollywood here.

More storm threats

Meteo France has issued warnings of hail and high winds expected later today. The forecast for the next 10 days or so seems very mixed; warmer but with rainy spells and occasional stormy interludes.
So we must just make the most of the good days, such as this morning's beautiful book swap prospects.
comments to

Sunday, 6 May 2018

Book swap tomorrow

St. Antonin, the Gazpacho, starting at 10.30 am
Looking forward to seeing you there, hopefully in the sun

Garden open with gallery viewing

Dear Val,

First of all a  ‘thank you ‘  to you for creating this blog which is such a valuable source to everyone in the locality.

Thank you too to everyone who came to our ‘Vide Maison’ last Saturday.  We were amazed at how many people arrived and how much of our ‘stuff’ found a new home.  

Next Saturday I’m hosting an open Gallery & Garden.  So if anyone would like a last look at my paintings/ cards  or a last wander around the garden before it has new stewards then we’d love to see you.

Saturday, 5 May 2018

I did not need to worry.

I was first there at the old mairie in Varen, ready for a big day selling.
Today was a day we raised money for the refugees at Parisot and we were all wondering how we would get on. 
Would there be any anti feeling against our boys who were helping.
I did not need to worry, the morning went really well and we were extremely busy.
Not sure how much  we took in the two hours of solid selling but when treasurer Sarah Brown adds up we know it is going to be a goodly sum.
Everyone happy, the boys found extra trousers and shirts and the little girl in the photo got the big bear as a cadeaux
SARAH informs me we took 482 euros in the shop and 5 South African rand ! as I have just sold on line 20 euros worth of stuff I think we can hand over
502 euros