Saturday, 16 February 2019

Fined for blowing the car horn

Many motorists "klaxon" to show support for demonstrations or striking workers but strictly it is illegal other than to avert danger. A couple caught in the Gilets jaunes blockage at Montauban were finally allowed through the barrage after being told to hoot for support. As they left they also made a "friendly" toot towards the gendarmes who were supervising the blockage.
It seems the policemen were not amused and eventually the couple received a fine of 22 euros for "abusive use" of a car horn.
The couple are outraged as they did not support the actions of the GJs and their gesture to the police was accompanied by a cheery wave. They intend to pay the fine in 1 centime coins.
The moral: be careful who you hoot at.

Friday, 15 February 2019

On the subject of taxis

A reader writes:
"Hi Malcolm
Whilst on the topic of taxi fares, the last time I asked for a local taxi devis from Caylus to Blagnac it came to €130 (plus another €130 for a pick-up a week later).  I imagine that would be over €150 now - confirmed last year by Uber in Montauban/Toulouse, who quoted €145.
Best wishes 
Chris "

Many rural taxi firms are bolstered by their contracts with the medical services; daily runs to hospitals and clinics on a "bon de transport" issued by GPs and specialists. That is their bread and butter, and the private hire is the jam, though they find it hard to fit in, which is why evening trips are most rewarding.
A car sharing system would be cheapest, but attempts to organise them via the internet seem to stumble over times (eg a trip to Blagnac to meet a flight will leave here 2/3 hours later than a trip to catch the same flight when it is leaving).
If readers plan their trips early enough an appeal via Taglines or one of the local FB groups could be fruitful.

Also it is worth considering the trains to Toulouse from Laguepie, Lexos or Vindrac.

Thursday, 14 February 2019

Fixed price for airport taxis

From 1st March taxis to or from Blagnac airport will have to charge a fixed price rather than the clock being on time, subject often traffic delays. A typical airport to railway station trip will cost 35 euros. Prices vary from 15 euros to 45 euros depending on the distance of the trip within the city environs.
There is still the possibility of the navette to the station and the tramway to other parts of the city.

Airbus drops A380

A380 takes off in Sydney: photo Peter Parks AFP
The Toulouse based aircraft manufacturer, Airbus, has decided to cease production of its biggest passenger model, the A380. The last models in production will be delivered in 2021, ending a 13 year experiment with these 4 engine planes. Often described as the most comfortable aircraft in service, airlines prefer twin engine models because modern engines are more fuel efficient and the A350 or Boeing 787 can carry almost as many passengers on the long haul routes. An additional factor is that airports do not need runway extensions for the smaller craft.
Airbus do not envisage much impact on employment at the various sites that construct the A380 as they can be diverted to the much in demand A320 and A350.

Love is in the air

Happy Valentine’s day to all our supporters at Mains Tendues 82
To all our refugee boys and families
To anyone in our area we have helped and will continue to help regardless of nationality, colour or religion.
And of course to Malc who is at my side as we push forward.
We have lots of plans to continue our help, lots of plans which will enhance the life of our village and other local villages and tomorrow we have another lovely afternoon planned.
We are hosting in the friperie a visit from a local group ‘’ Sol Handi’’ a group which helps handicapped people in our area based in Verfeil. 
At Verfeil the group have a village house where 31 people can meet, spend the day with qualified staff meeting their needs and arranging interesting projects. 
We are donating 500 euros to help with their projects and hoping to have close ties in the future with some of their projects with gardening and art.

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

FET at Les Cabannes

Big rise in anti-semitism last year

The Interior Ministry reported a rise in recorded acts of anti-Semitism of 74% in 2018. The acts included threats, thefts and in one case a murder. In Paris this weekend the portraits of Simone Veil, an Auschwitz survivor and major French and European politician, considered by many as one of the most important post-war contributors to French society, were defaced with swastikas.
The artist Christian Guemy removed the graffiti from his image
The artist who created the images cleaned them up himself and insisted that no matter how many times they were defaced he would restore them.
France 2 TV last night aired a documentary showing the battle in France in the 1930s for dominance by fascist sympathisers and left wing republicans. The importance of defeating this growing menace was graphically illustrated but ultimately led to the horrors of the war.

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Brilliant donation from far away

What a brilliant day, just brilliant
Not only meeting my long time facebook friend Rachel Thornton, who like me works helping refugees when she can, but she came bearing gifts.
She had been offered a pool table by someone who like us supports refugees and she knew my boys at Parisot would love to have one. Not only that but her friend sent her with a 500 euro cheque for Mains Tendues 82
The pool table is going into the new communal house in Verfeil which when it is renovated will include apartments for refugees who have their papers. 
We were helped today to unload by my dear refugee friends and also some of the young people from the commune in Verfeil who will enjoy the pool table too.
Thanks to Terence Harker for lunch and the photos, and for Malc taking the boys back and a specially big thank you to Rachel and her partner for hiring a van and driving all the way from Lodeve.

Millau viaduct raises millions

Millau viaduct: pic. Vincent, public domain
The spectacular viaduct at Millau opened in 2004 having cost 394 million euros is today giving its owner, Eiffage, profits of 24 million euros per annum. At 3.5 kilometres it represents over 6 million per kilometre, making it the most profitable stretch of peage in France.
Current toll is 8.60 euros (rising to 10.80 in summer) for light vehicles.
The bridge was designed in partnership with British architect Norman Foster and is the tallest bridge in the world at 343 metres. Its original conception was to eradicate the tremendous traffic jams experienced especially in the summer when the holiday makers from the north headed for the riviera and Mediterranean resorts.

Monday, 11 February 2019

Help find the owner who must live near Figeac

They told me not to go in the pound... said it would be fatal... but did I listen? Did I?
And then, opening the gate to the pound, the low 'whooaaf' should have stopped me if I had any sense... but did I?
'Course I didn't... and now I am in love with a stunning dog ❤️ 
and I WANT him!!!

But... this boy is in super condition, and somebody must have fed him well and looked after him. I wouldn't be surprised if he has been to a groomer recently. Somebody has bought him a lovely leather collar, and has given him treats to reward him and show their love for him. 
So, somebody must be missing him and chances are that he must be missing them as well!!!
Will you please share to find his owner? He was found somehere near Figeac in the Lot (46)...
Contact is Helping Homeless hounds the Figeac refuge and San Barto is the personal contact

Saturday, 9 February 2019

Two sad little kitties

Blanche & her son Ginge (born April 2018) are in desperate need of a loving home       
Their owner died suddenly last month & they have nowhere to go.    They are still in the house in Varen.
They have both been vaccinated & sterilised (& use a litter tray).
They really need & deserve comfort & care in a loving home.
Please can anyone help them?
Contact Caroline Kirk.

Friday, 8 February 2019

Help wanted for gite in Caylus area.

Help wanted to look after holiday home in Caylus. Full preparation between lets (cleaning, laundry, pool maintenance, grass-cutting etc.) so ideal for a local couple working together, or maybe for someone to manage using friends?  
For details contact Paul Downham at

Taglines moved from paper to electronic / memories

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

TAGlines could be back

Do you remember TAGlines? Conceived as a means of keeping English speakers in the "golden triangle" where Tarn, Aveyron and Tarn & Garonne departments meet - around the lovely medieval villages of St Antonin Noble Val, Varen and Najac it was published quarterly from 2003 - 2005, growing from four A4 pages to twice that size.
Given away free around the area it was supported by local advertising and a few generous donations.
The editorial concentrated on local events and personalities, but with the emphasis firmly on our hosts the French population (and indeed many of them were pleased to read something  in English of interest to the area).

The publisher, Val Johnstone of Varen, would like to re-establish TAGlines, but via the electronic media and first steps are  to establish an on-line blog version. So if you have news, views, items for sale, events to publicise etc why not let TAG on-line know  at

Are "radars" just a cash cow?

A complaint aimed at the roadside cameras to control speed is that they are merely there to collect another "tax" from motorists. Consequently more than half have been destroyed or defaced during the recent gilets jaunes campaigns. But there is almost a history of the cameras being used just as targets for discontented drivers. Some have been regularly vandalised over the years (we recall the camera at Maleville being burned out years ago). And the demonstrations of the farmers in the last couple of years have often targetted the cameras.
Yet it seems that France is one of the European countries least served by this effort to reduce road deaths from speeding vehicles. Using a measure of cameras per square kilometre, Belgium tops the league, with 18 times the number per square kilometre than in France. But Italy has actually the highest number, with over 10000 speed cameras, compared to just over 2000 in France. In fact France is 11th in density (though Malta with just 21 cameras has a much higher density). GB and the Netherlands also have much higher density than France and the least likely place to be flashed seems to be Spain.
So if cash is the purpose of this equipment then perhaps the government is missing a trick.
Statistics gathered by an organisation called Statista.

Thursday, 7 February 2019

One can never have too many books?

We have suddenly had an influx of new English speakers in Varen. Many of the more elderly have gone to pastures new or back to the UK.
But a steady stream of English language speakers from all over the world are choosing to make their lives in Varen.
For those I would like to tell you that the first Monday of every month there is a book swap  in St. Antonin at the Gazpacho.
The last two months I have not been able to spend the time driving to St. Ant and socialising there.
Which gave me the idea to start a smaller affair here in Varen and meet for coffee and book exchange the last Tuesday of every month.
I have checked at Axels bar and there would be no problem.
How in the past the book swap ran ( which I started 5 years ago) I ended up with a lot of work getting rid of excess books. So for the Varen swap I suggest you arrive with up to three books but you must then take three books away with you.
How about we try it the last Tuesday in February 26 th, meeting at 10. 30 in Axels bar.
It does not preclude one from going to the St. Antonin swap where you also have the option to stay and eat with a sympa group. The swap and booking the meal there is now organised by Helen Graham

L’Oustal at Laguepie

What a difference it makes if you have charming staff serving you. (the Moulin de Varen knows this)
Anyway lunch today at l’Oustal in Laguepie was really good and Malc finished with apple croustade and  ice cream.
 Must have been good we have  booked for 4 on Saturday lunch.
The place has been repainted and redesigned , very nicely done, but we thought of the place 17 years ago which was like stepping back in time and cost you 6 euros or the equivalent in francs

Who decides to close classes?

Given that almost all local communes are being threatened with losing classes in their primary schools (even larger communes such as Caussade), or having to merge classes in order to reduce staff levels, who makes the decision?
Education is under the control of the Ministry of Education, managed at local level by "Academies", who decide things such as curriculum, staffing and holiday dates. Here we are under the Academie de Toulouse. But there are Departmental organisms which are charged with carrying out the policies from above.
It is the sole responsibility of the Departmental delegation to decide which schools should close or lose classes. The commune has little or no input. The direction is supposed to consult the schools themselves and the commune maire.
The Department seems to consider that the classes are too small in the primary schools (overall average in Caussade for example is 23 pupils per class). Therefore it wants to combine classes to increase the level to about 27 minimum.
The fear at village level is that their schools will never reach a level considered viable by the Academie, leading to closure and merging with other nearby schools, with all the logistical impact that will have on pupils and parents. The manifestations at local schools will continue and delegations are expected to go to Montauban to try and meet the Director.

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Support for the infants school in Varen

Early morning start at the school in Varen which is threatened with the loss of a teacher and classroom closure.
The Maires of Varen and Verfeil were both there with parents and children to show their support.
Terence Harker and I were there showing support from Mains Tendues 82 as many of the young parents are customers of ours in the friperie and they have our support for a school in the village.
The fears are that eventually the school will be closed and the children sent to St. Antonin.

Help with heating costs

Apart from a system of heating allowance available to the less well off, the regions offer help and advice (which may include financial assistance) and in Midi Quercy there is a scheme called OPAH - (operation programme d'amelioration de habitat). It was covered some year ago in Taglines when based at Caylus and has been granted funds for 3 more years.
This link is to an article on the subject
If you click the "en savoir plus" link you can get an English version.

Taglines telephone woes

Any body trying to contact us on our landline these last few days will have received a "not available" message. It is not that we are so busy, merely that there seems to a fault at the exchange. Unusually we have internet access but no telephone.
Arrangements are in place to divert calls to our mobile phone, so you should be able to get through. Our usual email and messenger addresses are still working.

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Thanks to Hans of VIDEPC

Thanks to Hans of Videpc in St Antonin, we managed to get our projector connected up to TV and DVD players at  the weekend and were able to "binge watch" the superb BBC production of "Les Miserables" on our cinema screen. The story is multi-layered, exposing the horrendous post revolution justice system; the squalor and poverty of the ordinary citoyens; contrasting the kindness and generosity of the religious characters with the grasping exploitation of the innkeepers; examining the "ancien regime" royalists faced with the new revolutionaries. The barricades ring loudly with the current unrest in France, where Macron is regarded by many as a royalist style dictator using state force to keep the poorer classes down.
Whatever your stance on this matter, the production was very well written, produced, designed and acted and I hope it comes to French TV soon.
And without the damned music of the stage version.

Monday, 4 February 2019

Day of action tomorrow

Tuesday 5th February will be a day of action by the union CGT, representing many public service employees, in an attempt to demonstrate to the government the demands of the workers, allied to those of the gilets jaunes. Many local offices and schools will be affected.
Services affected will include the CPAM and CAF, dealing with health and family allowance payments, schools closed include those at Caussade, Caylus, Parisot as well as Montauban and other T&G communes.
There may also be problems on certain trains, so check with the SNCF/TER web site if you intend to travel by rail.
There will be a march in Montauban at around 11am.

Bookswap today

The monthly book swap will be today. 4th February at the Gazpacho in St Antonin, from 10.30 am.

World Anti-cancer Day

4th February is nominated World Anti-Cancer Day and a discussion in French media is about how doctors and nurses break the news to patients. Training of medical students did not include how to communicate with patients until recent years. One woman remembers her gynaecologist's secretary phoning her at work. Another was told baldly that there was no hope. Since about 2003 there has been a new protocol though there may still be differences depending on the personality of the professionals involved.
Many readers have experienced treatment here in France or elsewhere and may have different experiences. Taglines' sub-editor was diagnosed almost exactly 12 months ago with a form of lymphoma and experienced the communication with oncologists and nursing staff at Albi hospital.
We had a rendezvous with a specialist after a battery of tests and she passed us over to the oncologist after discovery of the condition. It was explained to us what was happening and that a programme of treatment would be agreed with various specialists, including the oversight of the Toulouse Oncopole experts.
A few days later we were given details of the programme and dates scheduled for chemotherapy. The documents in the dossier included the inevitable questionnaire as to whether the protocol on communication had ben followed. At the first treatment I was visited by a dietician and psychologist and throughout found the nurses extremely friendly and attentive. The lead oncologist was very "serious" as the French would say; business-like and brisk rather than empathetic, but always willing to listen and answer questions.
There is in our area an organisation called Cancer Support France (there is a contact number in the sidebar to this page) who hold monthly coffee mornings at the Gazpacho in St Antonin. CSF's aim to provide help, advice and support to those facing treatment or their families. One of the most useful aspects is help to deal with French individuals and organisations in the language.
Do not expect hospital staff to speak English. I found that the fact that I can speak reasonable French helped the medical staff and interested them in communicating with them. But use CSF if you need any help.

Sunday, 3 February 2019

The Moulin of Varen when it was a hydro electric plant

Mains Tendues will be selling lots of old postcards of Varen over the years from 1918 up to 2018
A donation from Patrick Lavile

The cement factory at Lexos

Lexos cimenterie

Les deux premières photos montrent les deux cheminées d'origine, les fours 1 et 2, qui ont été démolies en 1958.
Voici une chronologie de l'usine en ce qui concerne les cheminées :

1925: construction du four n°1 (50 mètres)
1933: construction du four n°2 (80 mètres)
1958: construction du four A (135 mètres) et arrêt des fours 1 & 2
1965: construction du four B (135 mètres)
La production a cessé en 1994, mais le site est toujours en activité comme dépôt jusqu'en 1999, date à laquelle toutes les activités ont cessé.
Les deux cheminĂ©es construites en 1958 et 1965 ont Ă©tĂ© dĂ©molies en octobre 1998. La tour derrière ces cheminĂ©es a Ă©tĂ© dynamitĂ©e en fĂ©vrier 2002 et d'autres bâtiments ont Ă©tĂ© dĂ©molis en avril 2002. 
Enfin, en juillet 2003, les silos situés sur le site de la déchetterie actuelle ont été dynamités.
John Dawson

Saturday, 2 February 2019

Did you know John Blackburn

Readers in the Caylus area who knew John will be sad to hear of his death. He was resident in Caylus for many years and died at home earlier this week. A service will be held in the church at Caylus, 14h followed at the crematorium Montauban at 17h on Monday February 4th.

Autoroute peages increased today

Increases to tariffs are about 1.8% from today. Since privatisation some 12 years ago prices have steadily increased thanks to "greater investment" according to the operators. Previously mainly built under a PFI (private finance initiative) with routes reverting to the state after 25/30 years, privatisation was seen as a way to relieve the state of any costs.
The report on France Info gives the example of 20 centimes increase on the Toulouse/Cahors journey, presumably on the two autoroutes combined.
Frequent users with a telepass contract may see their bills reduced by up to 30%.

Friday, 1 February 2019

No time for Brexit blues

What a difference it makes when the sun shines.
I think it is enjoy it while you can.
The Brexit cloud hangs over us all with the threat of no deal still hanging there.
I am so busy with our new old dog and the Varen friperies that both of these things take my mind off all the other “ merde”
Nice to note an optician has moved into St. Antonin.
The Oustal restaurant is open in Laguepie from next Tuesday, midday and evening, closed Mondays.
A new restaurant in St. Antonin called “Citron Bleu” is getting the thumbs up.
Our friperies are stocked with some wonderful furniture and of course designer clothes and fab. jewellery.
We have so many plans for Mains Tendues 82 this year, it really is "watch this space".

FĂŞtes at St. Antonin in the 1920’s

Charming post card of this fĂŞte in the halle, two years after the first world war.