Tuesday, 30 April 2019

What shall we do with the drunken deer.

When you see that chevreuil at the roadside you are never quite sure what it will do - dash into the road or off into the fields. It seems that at this time of year they eat so many succulent buds which contain fermentable sap that it can turn to alcohol. This has the usual effect and since deer have no concept of consuming "in moderation" they can become disorientated and lose their innate fear of vehicles.
Hitting a deer at night is relatively common, but drunken deer are about in the daytime too and drivers are well advised to keep a sharp eye out for beasts.

Do we put our region first?

The French regions were established in the 1980s as part of a plan of decentralisation, then reduced from 22 to 13 in 2015. Most of our readers live in what is now known as Occitanie, previously Midi Pyrenees.
The regions are responsible for many major aspects of our life: schools, infrastructure, trains, agriculture, health, tourism. The region is also responsible for bidding for and distributing EU funds. The main grouse is of course the central government's delegation of powers without the necessary funding. Nevertheless a recent poll suggests that although voters like being in a region they are not happy with the mergers. In Occitanie the Midi Pyreneans are happier that the Languedoc-Rousillonais, possibly because Toulouse is seen to be favoured over Montpellier.
Yet when people were asked what entity they felt most attached to they replied (in order) France, Europe, region, commune, department. The community of communes did not figure. But noticeable that region headed both commune and department.

Art in St. Antonin

Monday, 29 April 2019

But will MacDonalds do it?

A number of Toulouse takeaway restaurants are participating in a scheme using glass containers for your midday meal. A refundable deposit of 5 euros is added to the bill and the containers are supplied by a start-up company, who also pick them up and wash them.
The idea is that with re-usable containers some of the thousands of plastic and cardboard boxes would no longer need to be collected and recycled. It is estimated that about 10000 such containers generate 3 tonnes of rubbish each day in Toulouse.
The scheme's promoters hope more restaurants will sign up to make a significant impact on the city's rubbish.

Sunday, 28 April 2019

Book swap at St. Antonin

The next book swap will be at the Gazpacho on Monday 6th May. There will be lunch afterwards (at 12 noon). if you wish to participate please let me know as soon as possible and no later than Friday 3rd May.
Thank you,

Saturday, 27 April 2019

A young artist on Varen

Varen, Mains Tendues 82
Next week end  3/4 May, we have exhibiting in the old mairie a young French lady who lives in the village called Nina de Gioann
Nina will be exhibiting her art work and her photographs.
I hope you will come and support young talent.
Friday 15 h to 17 h
Saturday 9 to 12

Thursday, 25 April 2019

Sunday is the Flower Fair at Laguépie

Laguépie Flower fair is the unmissable annual signal that it is time to get your garden pots out. Flowers, bushes, trees, vegetables, tomatoes, herbs; plus all kinds of accessories.
It pays to get there early as parking is at a premium and have containers to carry home all your goodies. There will be the possibility of refreshments on site.

Up cycling in Parisot

Thomas Lefort at L'Esquisse
There is a lot of interest these days in taking old pieces of furniture and either restoring them to former glories or transforming them into something new, "up-cycling" as it is called.
A new enterprise called L'Esquisse has opened its doors in the old school in Parisot (82) under the control of Thomas Lefort. Trained as a coppersmith, Thomas creates his own furnishings or re-cycles older pieces into new designer creations.
The boutique is open every Saturday from 10h-12h and 14h-18h.

Deviations on the A62

Hi Val

I am just back from Blagnac airport and thought it might be worth letting anyone off to Toulouse or the airport know that there are roadworks and deviations on the autoroute so do leave extra time. It is both ways single lane traffic heading towards the tolls and the junction to pick up the Bordeaux/Paris auto route is closed. The deviation was not sign posted and myself and many others including huge lorries ended up in a T junction . It took me a hour to get out of Toulouse !


Wednesday, 24 April 2019

The vets at Laguepie

With a new building and state of the art equipment the vets at Laguepie are making a name for themselves.
With a new young lady vet on the team , English speaking and Charles Tondreau now speaking English, they are worth knowing about.
Max our little cat had an x ray there to check his leg was not broken after numerous bites from a snake, and after two days hospitalisation on a drip he is home safe

Tuesday, 23 April 2019

No longer a "bobby's job"

We used to have a phrase (at least we northerners) to describe a simple, no stress employment - "a bobby's job". When we were children policemen were the ultimate symbol of authority; if a bobby told you to stop doing something you stopped - at least until he went off.
Changes in attitude in society and a respect by the police themselves for the rights of the public mean that being a guardian of the peace is no longer what it was.
Here in France the "flics" have long been held in an ambivalent point of view. We were advised long ago by a senior gendarme not to engage in arguments with policemen who had more powers than you think. They are not identified by name and only recently by number; they can sue you on a personal basis if you "insult the uniform" and the CRS is famously brutal. But they are there to protect society from crooks, sort out difficult personal conflicts, pick up the pieces after disturbances and riots and in recent years to guard against terrorist attacks.
So far in 2019 some 40 officers have committed suicide, this is more than usual, though agents always have a higher suicide rate than the population as a whole. No studies have been made as to why this is the case but possibly the unsocial hours, the stress of the job and family break up are more prevalent than in other professions.
It is pretty difficult for the police unions and the officers themselves to hear shouts of "go kill yourself" during Saturday's usual GJ demonstrations and to see in Caussade on Sunday a van with a large notice suggesting that those injured in the demonstrations were in some way compensated by police suicides.

Monday, 22 April 2019

New guide book to St Antonin

What rights to walk in the woods?

Many of us like to take a walk in the woods, often with a dog for company. But do we have any right to be there?
Not if the woods are privately owned, when express permission is needed. Of course if there are footpaths or public tracks these may be taken. Landowners are concerned that unauthorised entrants may try to cut wood, collect mushrooms, cause damage or start fires. They state that the same restrictions apply as when walking across cultivated fields.
Presumably chasseurs have such permission and so many woods are not managed by their owners that it seems unnecessary to have such a sweeping statement.

Rana and her art with a visit also from Cancer Support France

The coming week end in Varen, we have the continuing exhibition of Rana J Rodgers in the old mairie.
On the Saturday 10 to 12 we have the very active group Cancer Support France coming to spread the word and offer help or advice and a coffee, tea and home made cake.
We hope you will all come and see Rana’s wonderful art and also come and chat with the group CANCER SUPPORT.

Tour de France to pass by Bruniquel

The 17th July will see the competitors in the 2019 Tour de France take a short detour into Tarn and Garonne. Departing from Albi cathedral the cyclists will head towards Bruniquel, before turning from the D115 Aveyron valley road past the foot of the village with its marvellous chateaux. Then following the Vere towards Gaillac the riders will only cover 7 kilometres of T&G roads, but will offer tremendous views to the telespectators of this beautiful area. The stage ends in Toulouse.

Sunday, 21 April 2019

Fair trade chocolate for Easter

France is the sixth biggest consumer of chocolate in the world and in recent years there is a tendency to buy "equitable" chocolate. This is from cocoa beans bought from small suppliers, or their co-operatives in countries such as Ivory Coast or Ghana. Often they may also be organic producers, offering consumers the choice of supporting small growers with the added low pollution benefit.
That said equitable chocolate still only represents a tiny proportion of the total, though Lidl claim that 100% of their chocolate products are sourced in this way.
The production of chocolate products is said to employ some 30000 people in France, and there are 7 million growers worldwide.
So if you are tucking into your equitable Easter egg, have a delicious day.

Friday, 19 April 2019

It is Good Friday

But it is not a public holiday here in France. Most shops and offices will be open as normal. But Monday 22nd April (Easter Monday) is a holiday and consequently many shops and certainly offices will be closed.
As usual it will be prudent to plan your weekend when a bank holiday is in prospect.

1.3 million euros for hunters

The regional council leader Carole Delga met representatives of the "chasse" and fishing groups and agreed to grant 1.3 million euros to help with their conservation activities. About half goes on fishing clubs to help with river and lake conservation and stocking. For the hunters they regret that none of the cash will go towards their training, safety and compensation to agriculteurs whose crops are damaged by wild animals. Ironically they say some will aid their programme to "reintroduce" local animals - presumably excluding bears and wolves.
We imagine establishing populations of pheasant, pigeon and partridge may figure on their list - or is that just cynicism?

Thursday, 18 April 2019

FET in May

“Feisty, funny and frank…" Stratford-upon-Avon Herald 

For our second show of the year, we are delighted to welcome FLO SMITH - NOW AND THEN on Saturday 18th May at 8pm.

It's 1969 and a woman looks back on her life lived in London, from the Boer War to the Summer of Love... Flo Smith, daughter, sister, wife, mother, widow and grandmother recalls with horror, humour, tears and joy those turbulent times at home, and in the world beyond her front door.

Written by actor Christopher Saul, the play is based on recordings he made as a young drama student of his own grandmother, Florence Smith. Her loveable and forthright character is brought brilliantly to life by Ursula Mohan, whose many credits include playing a female King Lear (at the Tristan Bates Theatre in 2016) and Joyce the cockney clippie, in many episodes of On the Buses (in the late 60s and early 70s).

★★★★ A working class London girl who has endured poverty, injustice, a troubled upbringing, love and loss, her reminisces intermingle with world events... it is this intimate biographical detail framed against the background politics that give her gossipy ramblings a historical importance and unique insightfulness." Gill Sutherland, Stratford Herald 

The bar will open at 7pm and the performance will start at 8pm.

To book your tickets, please email: fetatlecolombier@gmail.com

Members €15 Non-Members €20

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

Ruth Etridge FET Secretary

Tax relief on donations

Many readers will know that payments to registered charities can attract tax relief up to 66%, and as the many millions pledged for the reconstruction of Notre Dame are being made to an association "Friends of Notre Dame" they may be eligible for such relief.
So good you may think, but the effect is that it will be the state which finances most of the work. Of course there are caps on the relief but there have been inevitable claims that billionaire donors have been culpable of a publicity stunt in pledging millions which will attract tax reductions. Some have already said they will not claim the relief and probably much of the cash will be held in off shore tax havens, already sheltering much of the income or wealth from tax.
Most left wing parties have taken the opportunity to denounce tax avoidance and demand the reintroduction of the ISF (wealth tax). Right wing parties suggest that as the wealthy individuals and companies are major employment and wealth creators and their swift and generous donations should not be exploited for political gain.
You pays your money..

The Guardian loves Bruniquel

The UK newspaper published a list of its 20 most beautiful French villages and included two from Tarn and Garonne, Auvillar and Bruniquel. Also the Aveyron village of Estaing and Lautrec in the Tarn figured in the top 20 with six in total from Occitanie.
The attraction of Bruniquel, apart from its position and chateaux, was said to be its old world feeling of calm. Maire Michel Montet welcomes the classification, saying that many British visitors understand why several of our compatriots have chosen to settle there.

Tuesday, 16 April 2019

Does it matter that Notre Dame burned?

pic Fabien Barrau/AFP
One of the most important buildings in France's heritage has been ravaged by fire and will cost hundreds of millions of euros to restore. Yet there have been some mixed reactions to the news of the damage to Notre Dame. Most French people seem to be shocked at the destruction caused in the 900 year old building; it is seen as the most iconic building in Paris, having lived through all the most important happenings there over the centuries. Many conservationists and historians have called on the government to commit to fully fund the work. But President Macron has called for international aid and private funds to contribute.
Notre Dame de Paris is the most visited site in the most visited tourist country in the world, so its international stature is well established. But inevitably some are questioning the value of spending so much on a church when there is so much social inequality. Some say that cancelling the 2024 Olympic games in Paris would release sufficient funds. It has even been suggested that as it is a symbol of the centuries of ecclesiastic oppression it should be demolished to make way for something "more modern". One art historian belittled the 100 million pledged by a wealthy family because it only represented "one 350th of their wealth".
Such points of view may appeal to some, but the importance of our countries' heritages should not be underestimated or devalued. We were outraged when the Taliban destroyed centuries old pre-Islamic carvings. Should we demolish the Coliseum in Rome because barbaric games were held there? What about the pyramids, symbols of despotic pharaohs? And even Auschwitz still stands to remind us that not everything in the past should be forgotten.
And we Brits recall how St Paul's cathedral was a symbol of our resistance to Luftwaffe bombing.
Let's cherish our heritage, but invest more on a regular basis to keep it safe from the ravages of time.

Sunday, 14 April 2019

Art in Varen

Tax returns on line now

Your Declaration de Revenus 2019 is now available on the government web site. The forms are filled with the details the "fisc" already knows and for those working people on the new pay as you earn scheme for France there is no need to enter 2018 wages, as 2019 will be taxed at source.
The forms call for "exceptional" items to be entered, including claims to relief.
The system is unlikely to affect the treatment of the overseas pensions many of us receive, but getting expert help may well be essential this year.

Saturday, 13 April 2019

Rana in Varen for Easter

An exhibition of paintings by Rana J Rodger 
On Saturday the 20th April at Mains Tendues Varen
Rana will be exhibiting a collection of her paintings from watercolours of Varen and the area and her oil paintings.
The originals will be for sale at a reduced price for the occasion, and prints and greeting cards of her work will be on sale and to order.
A percentage of all sales will be going to Mains Tendues.

Friday, 12 April 2019

A first for them and us in the old mairie

Varen, at the old mairie

Sol handi getting ready for their exhibition this afternoon and tomorrow morning.
Please come and support all their efforts, the art is spectacular. All for sale at a price you decide over  50 euros please. If not buying we will put out a couple of hats for donations.

The box caterpillars have an unusual risk

Not content with ravaging all our box hedges and trees the "pyrale du buis" caterpillars are risking the heart of French culture and sporting life.
It appears that practically all the "cochonnets" used by petanque players are made from box wood. The wood turners based in the Jura who manufacture almost all the "buts" or "petits" used in France, around a million a year, are afraid that within a few years there will be no more wood supplies in the country.
So it is not inconcevable that in a few years when a bouliste asks you "have you got a petit" (practically every "amical" your correspondent has played in seems to be against teams who have forgotten to bring one), you will reply, "yes, but made in China".
The manufacturers are trying to source imports of the vital material.

A memorial for Roger Bowen

One of our best loved characters Roger Bowen died in January and as he wished to be buried in England most of his friends here were denied a chance to say farewell. His long time friend and colleague Michaela Best has undertaken to organise a short memorial service in the parish church in Varen.
To be held on Saturday 4th May at 5pm (17h) the proceedings will include a welcome and  benediction by the Curé and some of Roger's favourite music and readings as well as a reminiscence of his life here in France as well as life before France.
The service should last about 30 minutes and will be followed by drinks and nibbles at Michaela's house in St Vincent de Varen.
Michaela will prepare a booklet and asks anyone who would like to contribute a few words to email her at michaelabest@hotmail.com 

Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Note your diary for Offenbach 2019

More details on this year's operetta on this website.
If you haven't been before and like musical comedy a la francaise these are excellent entertainment for a summer's evening.

Prickles is getting good care

Prickly news update
Poorly hedgehog under treatment and recovering well

Collected and checked over, first job to get a large tic out of its ear - easier said than done !!!    When I have managed that I have a place here that’s enclosed and hoggie safe to let it roam a little so we can see how badly damaged but overall healthier than I thought so fingers crossed !!

You have to laugh

A reader sends his "home thoughts from abroad"


Just thought it would give you a smile !

Frank and Joan xx

Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Fripaffaires at Parisot celebrates

Latest news from ECREU

ECREU is a lobbying group aiming to gain protection for expats in the EU (which includes those living in the UK). It is essentially not anti-Brexit, but in the event of a UK withdrawal wants to see an agreement which protects expats rights gained over 40 years of membership of the EU.
Its latest newsletter has useful information on progress in various countries, including the status of ill or destitute UK citizens who want to return to Britain, who may find it difficult to get help.
Link to the newsletter (which also contains links to RIFT website - Remain in France Together- which also goes through the various deal/no deal scenarios).


Cancer support vide armoire

10am til 5pm
Bonbousquet Yoga Studio, Les Cabannes

All proceeds/donations going to Cancer Support France and Mains Tendues 82 Varen, which supports a number of local charities.

Women's clothes, accessories, shoes, handbags, a range of English books including gardening books and cookbooks, dvds, knitting wool, children's equipment, greeting cards and much more  Everything priced to sell, nothing over 5€. Please come and support this very worthy cause and tell your friends.

Contact maslincaroline@gmail.com for more information.

Monday, 8 April 2019

Grand debate answers today

The government embarked on a national consultation via a grand debate, inviting people to post their ideas on-line or participate in public meetings.
This part of the response to the gilet jaune protests.
Prime minister Edouard Phillipe will give a response today.
Expect it to be rejected by both right and left wing parties!

Check this site for French brexit rules


For the UK government's advice this site is helpful (as far as we know)


For readers who think Brexit will not affect us may be surprised.

Sunday, 7 April 2019

Art in Varen, starting with Sol handi

Varen, 82330, Mains Tendues 82
Our next big adventure is next week end.
We host a handicapped group called “Sol handi “ in the old mairie where the group are displaying their love of art.
Terence Harker Sarah Brown, and I know of this love having visited their communal house at Verfeil. This house is used on week days with a mini bus that can collect people in the area and take them each day for fun, art and gardening are top on the list. The whole house is covered in art work, on every wall in every room.
Please come and look and show your support. I believe one piece of art will be for sale.
I am going to suggest the group have baskets out to receive donations from visitors. Groups like this although funded by the Communities de communes ( com com)still need a bit of money for extra treats.
This iniative is not about our group Mains Tendues 82 making money but to promote artists and group in the area, and animate the market even more on a Saturday morning.
Susan Hunt is the organiser of these week ends to display art in all its forms, so she is the person to contact if you are interested.

Grotte du Bosc closed

The only managed cave system in Tarn and Garonne is the Grotte du Bosc, under the cliffs above St Antonin. The caves were discovered in 1934 and have been managed by the same family ever since. The present owner, Pierre Régi, has decided that at 77 years of age he can no longer take on the responsibility of the popular attraction.
Last year there were over 8000 visitors, welcomed by a small group of volunteers and staff, but those wanting to go underground have found a terse notice on the reception door "Closed definitely" since last Friday.
The owner says he is willing to sell, but only to a sympathetic buyer. Talks have been held with local authorities but currently no solution is in sight.

Saturday, 6 April 2019

St. Antonin and Varen, a room needed

Your help needed

We have one of our best guys who has a job in St. Antonin for the summer in a restaurant. He needs a room to rent, he does not get paid much but he is very willing and able and speaks English really well and is learning French.
If you think you could help him please contact me to see what could be arranged.
Also we have another guy who has asylum, another one of our special boys. We are arranging a job in Varen for him but he would also need a room.
and as well as a little bit of money they paid you for a room they could help you with jobs.

Friday, 5 April 2019

We are in and open and what a great team, Mains Tendues 82 in Varen

Lots of the team missing, we must get everyone together for a big group photo and with more of our men.

Today is the day

All the work over the last few weeks will come to fruition today as we merge our two outlets into one huge building.
A big thank you to artisans who have worked for us, for all “our  people” who have worked so hard and everyone who has donated to make our adventure such a success.
Thirteen months since we started and we are on our way...UP

Thursday, 4 April 2019

Wooden bed for child or small adult

40 euros a The Friperie
Mains tendues 82

What a team

Hendrika arrived today with a handful of big hearts she had made to decorate the stairs at the frip at Mains Tendues.
She said they are to signify our caring attitude, they are not for sale just beautiful little decorations.
Hilary arrived with beautifully made price signs, bright and fun.
Jill arrived with a wonderful cherry cake.
Liz arrived and got cracking sorting clothes
Vicki  Fagg, a new one to our band, rolled up her sleeves and got cracking
Young men arrived from Parisot with strong arms to move furniture about for us.
Nina de Gioann arrived to help with happy smiles.
Sarah Brown arrived with her always helpful jolly demeaner.
Andrea arrived to take excess stuff off to its next destination.
Caroline Trender arrived to sort out the childrens clothes and shoes.
I left with a heart full of joy and happiness.

Great team work everyone and also to those going tomorrow.
Hilary says her happy social life is now at the frip and with all the love and caring between us all I agree.


St. Antonin on market day

Photo by Maison de L’Amour

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

Birds under threat after 40 years

In 1979 agreement was reached by EU countries to restrict hunting of various species of wild birds. Yet the French LPO (bird protection league) says that forty years later in several instances France has yet to comply with the directive.
Some 68 species deemed at risk are still hunted in France, including 20 on the international endangered list. This is against an average of 20-30 in the rest of Europe.
The LPO also wants to put a stop to some "traditional" methods of trapping birds, such as the use of "glu" as we reported here a couple of months ago. The method has already been banned in Italy, Spain and Malta, but not yet in the French departments where it still goes on.
Thirdly the league wants to prevent the hunting of migratory birds beyond the end of January, whereas chasseurs want the season to include February. The league claims to have asked the state to ban this some 12 times and have now exhausted all internal avenues. Consequently they are to ask the EU commission to remind France of its obligations under the EU directive. It is no use, they say, to preach France's leading position in pursuit of bio-diversity and fail to set a good example on this measure of protection of wild life.

Tuesday, 2 April 2019

A busy weekend

Not just at Varen's new "department store", but also at Verfeil,  Laguepie and Najac (entre autres).

Saturday 6th April the 18km walk meeting at 8.30am in the village square. A picnic will be provided at noon and a meal in the Salle des Fetes at 20h. Inscriptions 20 euros, must be in today to 0652 61 66 32.

Saturday and Sunday at Najac is the Salon du goùt, in the Salle Omnisport, le Puech. Both days will have food, exhibits and stalls. Entry free.

In Laguepie (presumably the salle des fetes) is the second "Braderie" for sewing products and accessories will be held from 8am to 18h. There will be catering on site.

These charcuterie products recalled

Some meats manufactured by Montagne Noir, sold under that label as well as own labels for Auchan, Casino and Monoprix, have been recalled as there is a risk of listeria.
Auchan products include "Plateau Degustation Italie", Casino has "Saveurs D'ailleurs" or "Montagne Noir charcuterie italienne".
The products have consume by dates up to mid-June. Consumers are advised to return any products to the point of sale and consult their GP if they have any symptoms of fever and headaches. The effects can take up to eight weeks to appear.

Monday, 1 April 2019

Varen friperie

Just like Attenborough

We are having a new liner in our swimming pool. This meant first of all pumping out the many cubic metres of mainly green looking rain water. We were able to use some of that to water the horses when they were here, but most of it watered the fields. Of course there is always a remaining amount of flotsam in the bottom of the pool, usually including frogs and dead mice.
We fished out the little frogs and transported them to a small pond which has formed in the field, where they found family friends. But imagine our surprise when not one but three little salamanders swam into our nets.
These too were carried to the pond, where they seem to be happy enough.
Spot the frog

Salamander seeking cover

Bringing art to Varen

One of our favourite customers helps Susan Hunt move clothes from one building to another, ready for our opening on two floors this week end
Love this photo.
Many of you know Susan Hunt who is taking over Mains Tendues 82 new project bringing art in all its forms to Varen.
If you are interested in exhibiting why not talk to Susan. Exhibiting costs nothing we on our part just want to enhance the life of the village with paintings, photos, needlework, even cake decorating or floral art.
Susan Hunt. sueandlarry@gmail.com

April 1st no joke for some

The winter "treve" during which landlords may not expel tenants except in certain restrictive conditions ended yesterday. Whilst we can sympathise with owners with bad tenants, many people will be put into the streets due to economic circumstances.
One of the local charity groups we have had communication with is "Pas sans toit" which helps homeless people in Montauban.  We are told there are around 100 homeless people in that city, including families with children.
The Fondation Abbe Pierre has condemned at national level the expulsions when local authorities are not making enough effort to provide accommodation for such individuals and families.
The volunteers of Pas sans toit often provide accommodation in their own homes and the association may pay hotel rooms on a short term. Mains Tendues 82 has as its aim to help local people in difficulties via the associations which provide on the ground assistance so is to offer 500 euros to help out the association, as well as a similar sum to another local association "Education sans frontieres" which helps homeless people with learning French, the key to many administration solutions.

And it was carnival in Verfeil

We told you about the carnival in Toulouse yesterday, but nearer to home the citizens of Verfeil sur Seye took to the streets in the spring sunshine. Lots of photos on the Verfeil Facebook page, but here are couple sent to us by Hazel Armfield.

 Let us know in advance if you want your event publicised via Taglines.