Tuesday, 7 July 2020

Back to being open Saturday morning

The Mains Tendues group know how to party
Here celebrating just being together, but delighted with the news we can now be open Saturday morning market day.
Note our times.
This week only
Wed. 15 h to 17 h
Frid 15 h to 17 h
Sat 9 to 12
Next week we will be back to normal times
Friday 15 h to 17 h
Sat 9 to 12

Sunday, 5 July 2020

An important political step

Michèle Rubirola, the first woman to be Maire of Marseille 

The new Maire of Marseille 
A Maire to the left and the green party.
The tide is slowly turning
Some good news this morning

Thursday, 2 July 2020

The tide is turning for the Green parties

The second round of local elections 

Candidates from green party Europe Ecologie-Les Verts (EELV) swept to victory in the second round of local elections in cities across France yesterday including Lyon (Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes), Bordeaux (Nouvelle-Aquitaine), Strasbourg (Grand Est), Besançon (Bourgogne-Franche-Comté), Poitiers (Nouvelle-Aquitaine), Annecy (Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes) and Tours (Centre-Val de Loire).

However, results showed voter turnout in the election was historically low. Only 40-41% of those eligible to vote did so, compared with 62.1% in the last local elections in 2014.

This may be a result of voters being reluctant to go to polling stations in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis, despite health and safety measures being in place.

But critics have pointed out that the first round of voting (which took place on March 15, one day before Covid-19 lockdown began) also saw a very low turnout. 

The second round of elections was originally supposed to take place on March 22 but was postponed following confinement in France. 

Green is buzzword for France’s local elections

Taken from the Connexion

Thursday, 25 June 2020

Two little mittens, / Home found together

Ok we have two little kittens at Najac needing homes they will be chipped and later sterilised 

If anyone is intetested in one of these cuties let me know and I will pass you onto the French friend
Bonjour Val, je m'excuse de te déranger et de te solliciter. Une chatte errante a fait ses 5 petits chatons chez moi dans ma nouvelle maison à Najac il y a 2 mois, je m'en suis occupée de mon mieux et leur ai trouvé des acquéreurs, mais une des personnes qui devait en prendre 2, n'a pas pu finalement et je pars dimanche m'occuper de ma mère pendant le mois de juillet , alors je cherche quelqu'un qui les adopterait d'ici la fin de la semaine ! Ils sont adorables, propres, mangent et boivent seuls , jouent bcp ensemble et sont très habitués aux humains, ils sont très sociables...je t'envoie 2 photos, le tigré est un male et la petite isabelle une femelle...Merci de me dire si tu as une idée de ce que je peux faire...J'ai tout essayé avec l'association Chats Libres de Najac, mais nous n'avons trouvé personne...Merci d'avance et à bientôt.
Contact taglines82@ gmail.com

Wednesday, 24 June 2020

Festilit Parisot

David Nicholls
Thursday 25 June 17h00 France/16h00 UK 

A reminder that our last LockdownLit of the summer will take place on Thursday instead of the usual Friday slot.  Join us to hear David, the best-selling author of One Day, Starter for Ten, The Understudy and Us talk about his latest novel Sweet Sorrow, a wonderfully funny, tender and nostalgic tale of first love. 

Join the session
LockdownLit, like Festilitt, our festival in October, is completely free of charge.  We make this possible by working hard throughout the year to raise funds, but this year's restrictions and social distancing requirements will make that more challenging than usual.  If you would like to help secure the future of the festival, please sign up to be a friend or patron and give us much-needed financial support.  Thank you! 
Click here to support us

Civil Funeral Celebrant

Tuesday, 23 June 2020

Art at Parisot

A painting by Tudor Powell

A painting by my brother in law of the route to Mas del Sol in Varen. It was painted from a photo
taken 8 years ago. The trees have since been cut down.

Thursday, 18 June 2020

A follow up to the Mains Tendues story

What a fabulous photo to wake up to.
Besha Ahmed returns after his travels
I cannot tell you how much love and respect not just I, but friends and family hold him in.
If ever I am a bit low I will remember this photo 💖

Besha says
« Even kids when you hug them feel like you need cuddles and not them nothing is more honest, beautiful and influential as a baby smile. »

One of the young men who arrived here from Sudan, escaping being killed, was Besha. He made an immediate impression, cooking for everyone ,making meals sometimes for 50, in the waiting stations, waiting for asylum.
He has a passion for cooking and when he got his asylum papers with a bit of help from a friend of mine who has a big hotel in Toulouse on the Place Capitol, a job was secured as a cook in a restaurant on the Place Capitol. He spends two days at cookery school and even with the struggles with his now third language French, he comes top in his exams.
He has saved his wages to go to Ethopia next to Sudan and arranged for his mother and sister to meet him there. He had not seen them for nearly five years.

Life in France has never been so diverse. I have learnt not just about France but life around the world, and feel enriched by it all

Tuesday, 16 June 2020

How Mains Tendues 82 came to be

How Mains Tendues 82 was formed

These lads did not know it but then again neither did we. This was the start leading us towards our association Mains Tendues.
Malc and I started gathering clothes, shoes, tents and bedding and sending up lorries and vans to Calais. Our house was packed with stuff as it neared the time for it to go. A couple Laura and Sid even took things up and helped to build chalets.
Then we heard as the Calais Camp was being disbanded  we had 
17 refugees arriving in St. Antonin at a site called Reoboth.
Sarah Brown and I joined a group of  mainly French volunteers and started making up beds and packs of toiletries, bedside lamps and plugs in each bedroom for phones. I remember how all the group were nervous but so keen to help.
We had people who could teach French, and English speakers were particularly useful as the common language was English.
Well they arrived and for 4 months what fun we had, finding them clothes, shoes, bikes to get around, gym equipment, teaching them about life in France and showing them the area. . As I already had a blog, Tag on line I could summon up help and funds. Malc who in a previous life had been a tax inspector and Sarah Brown who had been a lawyer, between us all we monitored funds and kept records, as at this stage we had no association to funnel the cash through. 
Our first young men were dispersed through out France,  at this point whilst they waited for asylum. As we had a gite we often had a houseful of lads as those who could, came back for weekends.
Then we heard another larger group were coming and would be housed at Verfeil.
The three of us decided we needed an association to run the money through and we had started by my constant posts and badgering to get not just money but articles needed.
That was basically how and why Mains Tendues 82 was formed.
When we started selling in the old mairie in Varen, the pace of the association went up a step. We got more volunteers we got plenty to sell and we started talking about not just helping refugees but anyone in need.
With myself, Terence Harker, Sarah Brown,Jill Williamson, we make up the bureau and have the most brilliant committee members French, Dutch and English.
We have achieved a lot for others in the area, including other
 associations that help people and animals.
My heart will always be with my lads who brought so much joy to our lives, they were grateful we helped them, but we were grateful for what they brought to us.
In conclusion
Mains Tendues 82 , what a team. 
May we grow from strength to strength.
One of our next projects will be helping young families in the camps In Greece.
Look at the photos of the young men and smile that for the most part their lives are safe,they have jobs, some partners, one a beautiful baby girl, and they can look forward without fear.

Monday, 15 June 2020

Learn more about refugees in Greece, article to follow

Friend Simon  Farmer talking to some of Mains Tendues committee about helping refugees in Chios in Varen today. An interesting morning listen to Simon who was spurred on to go and help refugees in the Greek Island in sept 2015 when the picture of the small  child  washed up dead on the beach was shown around the world. The childs name was Aylan Kurdi
A picture most of us will never forget
Simon will write a piece about his work soon and if you want to see the association he is involved with look at Offene Arme e,V./CESRT
In German it means Open Arms, appropriate that our symbol is Hands outstretched.  / helping  hands
Along with other associations we help, this one will be added to our list.

Friday, 12 June 2020

Bouncing Nero

Nero  has a bounce, but he does  not have anyone to bounce with
He is stuck in Figeac refuge, so sad for a boy who wants to be loved and is happy to play. If we local people all share this fun picture I am sure we could find him a home  with someone amongst us.
You need to contact San Baro from Helping Homeless Hounds, for more information and arrange to meet him
He is chipped, vacinated and castrated.
Mains Tendues 82  will pay any rehoming fee.

Mains Tendues 82, Varen

Mains Tendues 82 , Varen,  opens this afternoon,
14.30 to 17 h
Come with your mask please
Excited? we at Mains Tendues are.

Monday, 8 June 2020

The Old Smoke House

What a fantastic opening day yesterday at our new retail shop in St Antonin Noble Val. - it was so successful that we had to re-stock our fridge by 11.00am !
A huge thank you to all of our old and new customers and we look forward to seeing you next Sunday 9.00 - 1.00

Le Bal des Chateaux, Bruniquel

Sunday, 7 June 2020

Fêtes des Meres

The restaurants that are open will be full of French families today. I passed  The Moulin de Varen this morning whilst walking the dogs and Patrick the chef and staff were putting everything in order ready  for a busy lunchtime on the terrace. Full except for two tables of French families I was told.
The weather is a bit indifferent but warm enough to be outside with a cardigan. Do men wear cardigans ? Oh yes they do, Malc had two  or three he wore and looked liked  “a proper grandad”
taglines82@ gmail.com

Wednesday, 3 June 2020

Rioting on the streets of Paris last night

And a lot of my friends fit into this category. Their lives were in danger, in for example Sudan, where the blacker your skin the more likely you were to be targeted by the Arab government and killed. Having escaped here with many of their families and compatriots killed, I want them to be safe and not feel second class citizens. The saddest thing I heard when one of my boys was being harrassed, said «  my skin is black but my heart is white « 
No one should ever have to say something like that. 
We are Equal.
The rioting on the streets last night was against racism and the way black lives do not seem to matter to some.
We know they do matter.

Tuesday, 2 June 2020

This bundle of fun awaits... maybe you

Well all you animal lovers who support Mains Tendues 82  raise funds to rehome cats and dogs , look at this joyous chappie. He is at Figeac refuge and San Barto who works so hard for Helping Homeless Hounds, knows it is the time for him to find a home. i like him because I smile just looking at his face, I laugh out loud seeing his bounce. Who is there for this boy?

I can NOT believe that nobody has fallen for these ears yet!!!
I mean, come on... they're gorgeous! Silky soft...

Néron was found and I was 100% percent convinced his owner would show up in no time... how wrong was I?
I was then 100% convinced that Néron would 'fly' out of the refuge as he is just so gorgeous... how wrong was I again?
But what I am not wrong about is that Néron will make you laugh every day he is around you. He loves life! And I know that he would much rather be in your home than stuck in our kennels... so who is going to prove me right on this?  😉
Néron is in Figeac (Lot, 46) and is chipped, vaccinated and castrated.

Sunday, 31 May 2020

Sue at Poorpaws says in reply to a donation from Mains Tendues 82

Val says, I do just love what we do. Reply from Sue  at Poorpaws

Val ?!  Wow !!  Are you sure ?  It's a huge donation !  I can hardly believe it.  Thank you so, so much from Danielle and me.  As you will know, not being able to do our book sale earlier in the year was a huge financial disaster for us and food and vet bills were coming out of our pockets.  I'm NOT complaining, for my part it was my decision to keep the 15 dogs who weren't adopted,  and I assume that responsibility.  I know Danielle has been struggling, no-one was going away so no dogs going 'en pension' which is an important part of her income, yet she continued to take in waifs and strays and, thankfully, adoptions have been good.  I will call her later to give her the good news and see who she wants her cheque made out to.

I will get down to see you soon to collect the books - my little shed is sinking under the weight but I'm not turning them away.  We have the idea of doing a two day sale, if possible, in October.

So glad you are happy in your house and that confinement was not too bad.  I have had to be dragged out kicking and screaming after spending a blissful two months gardening and sitting reading in my greenhouse !

I'm sure Danielle joins me in sending much love and so many thanks to you and the wonderful Mains Tendues team.


St. Antonin is open again

Saturday, 30 May 2020

Another donation to animals

After having a stonking week selling on line for Mains Tendues 82, we were delighted to take over 800 euros. People were giving a 2 eurod donation extra and got a new hat from a Caussade hat maker. They were asked how they would like their money to be spent and overall cats and dogs came top.
As we have recently given 1,000 euros to Amis des Animaux, today we will be organising another donation.

The best part comes now
Giving money away
1,000 euros going to Poorpaws who works alongside Mere des bêtes
You indicated from your donations you were animal lovers
Sue Glibbery was unable to organise her spring book sale which raises money to rehome animals and also for Cancer research.
So nice we can support these two rehomers I have known a long time and had friends animals helped over  the years.
Sue Glibbery was going long before many of the current dog charities
Danielle Dickzy who runs Mere des Bêtes is also an Inspector for the Brigitte Bardot foundation.

Mains Tendues 82


Monday, 25 May 2020

Funeral info, one day ,it could be useful

I am often asked things on Tag on line and since Malc died I am asked about funerals, how to organise, who can perform the ceremony and most importantly funeral costs. Tonight receiving the message below reminded me to tell you my experiences which may be helpful.
Malc died in hospital at Albi and we arranged with one of the nursing staff who has the job to help you with onward steps. We had decided he would be cremated in an Albi crematorium. The body was picked up and taken straight there. The funeral has to be arranged with a week unless exceptional circumstances, which certainly puts the pressure on. I did not want a French celebrant to hold the service as ones we had seen before were so impersonable and one kept even getting the name of the deceased wrong.
A friend who was good at public speaking did it for me , he will never be forgotten💕
When we went to organise the funeral you need to make it clear what you want. We had talked it over before Malc died and he wanted the cheapest possible funeral so money could be given to refugees.
The cost of coffins can differ tremendously,they did not have cardboard coffins but you can get them. In the end we went for the cheapest wooden coffin with rope handles and no fancy lined insides, it cost 1,000 euros
The urn we chose was cardboard and cost 30 euros, the ashes were scattered the next day in the countryside where we enjoyed walking.
We had no expense of cars except the body delivery from hospital to crematorium. The final cost was 2, 400 euos but many spend up to 5,000
Tonight when the post below came I thought I would certainly promote this man as the info he sent looked good. 
More info to come.
By the way the charge for advertising on Tag for 3 months is now made payable to Mains Tendues 82

His message

I have started to provide a service  as an English speaking Funeral Celebrant and am keen to ensure that knowledge of this service is made widely known throughout our region and "Tag on-Line seems to me to offer that possibility. I would like to take an advertisement in your publication and I understnd that your charge for this is €35 for three months which is payable to the five charities mentioned on your site. I was not clear how the  payment is made - Do I choose my charity or do you collect all the contribitions and then divide them across the chosen charities?

 I would be happy to provide advertorial content if you want it and enclose herewith a pdf version of my brochure for you to better understand the service offered. 
I look forward to hearing from you and to joining your band of advertisers.

Thursday, 21 May 2020

Save la Place des Moines

Sachez que l'avenir de la Place des Moines devant la Poste de Saint-Antonin est toujours en jeu. Le nouveau conseil municipal a toujours l'intention de détruire les balustrades, de mettre du parking sur la place, etc. La Société des Amis du Vieux Saint Antonin et d'autres continuent de faire campagne contre cela. Veuillez consulter l'historique des contours et les nouveaux plans proposés sur ce lien et nous prêter tout le soutien que vous pouvez contre eux!
Please be aware the future of the Place des Moines in front of the Post Office in Saint Antonin still hangs in the balance. The new conseil municipal still intend to go ahead with destroying the balustrades, putting some parking places into the square etc. The Societé des Amis du Vieux Saint Antonin and others are continuing to campaign against this. Please see the outline history and proposed new plans on this link and lend us any support you can against them!
Taglines82@ gmail.com

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Apparently you can walk by the rivers

You can walk by rivers but you cannot stop and sit on benches or have picnics.
Lovely walking along the river banks in Varen this morning.
taglines 82@ gmail.com

Tuesday, 19 May 2020

Can we walk by rivers now?

This photo was taken down by the river in Varen of some people having a picnic.
Have I got  it wrong? I thought rivers and river banks were still out of bounds ?
Lovely photo though taken by  Gareth Brown
I will let you know when I find out

Sunday, 10 May 2020

Sunday 10 th of May, storm warning

Tarn et Garonne
A storm is now forecast this afternoon ,this evening and possibly tomorrow
In another department there was thunder, lightening and hailstones as big as golf balls. The friend reporting had seedlings and newly planted plants smashed.
I have just been round the garden covering vunerable plants and moving chairs to safety
Stay safe not only from the virus but from storms ❤️🌺

Friday, 8 May 2020

From the British Embassy in France

The following has been issued by the British Embassy in Paris; 
Covid Update - 8 May
British Embassy Paris·Friday, 8 May 2020·7 minutes

A further update for British citizens in France following Prime Minister Edouard Philippe’s press conference with ministers on de-confinement yesterday
Deconfinement Summary
The Prime Minister confirmed that a very gradual de-confinement process will begin on Monday 11 May for all of France.  Over the coming weeks, a balance will have to be struck between resuming ‘normal’ life and respecting the health measures which protect us. Further detail will be made public in the coming days. The objective is to be able to live with the virus and learn how to protect ourselves without a vaccine, treatment or collective immunity. Monday 11 May will mark a new phase. Collective responsibility, including by respecting social distancing measures, is even more important in de-confinement.
The de-confinement strategy has been guided by three key indicators in each département: the level of the virus circulating, the strain on hospitals and the capacity for testing. As we previously reported, this has resulted in some parts of the country being designated green, and others red (l'Ile-de-France, les Hauts-de-France, le Grand Est et la Bourgogne-Franche-Comté). However, the epidemic evolves daily and the red and green areas of the map could change. If green départements continue to see a low number of cases over the next three weeks, they will enter a further stage of de-confinement which could see lycées, restaurants, and cafés re-open from 2 June in line with health measures. The less good news is that red départements will adhere to stricter and slower de-confinement measures – parks and gardens will not re-open next week, and collèges will not open from 18 May.
There will be no compulsory confinement for the most vulnerable, such as the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions. However, these groups should continue to observe strict prudence, resembling the measures of the last two months, in order to protect themselves and others.
If you have Covid symptoms, act immediately: contact your doctor or call 15. After answering some questions, a test will be made available to you at a lab, hospital, drive-through or at home – you should stay at home to await results. Self-isolate until two days after you recover (between 8-10 days). The cost of the test will be 100% covered by l’Assurance Maladie. If you test positive, you will be taken care of and l’Assurance Maladie will begin an investigation into who you have been in contact with. When self-isolating, stay in one room if you share a home, do not touch others or objects they might touch, air the room frequently, disinfect objects you touch, wash your hands regularly, do not accept visitors unless from doctors, and wear a mask. If you are contacted by l’Assurance Maladie because you have been in contact with someone who has tested positive, you should self-isolate, take your temperature twice a day, and work from home if possible. After seven days, if you test negative, you will self-isolate for a further sevendays. If self-isolation is not possible at home, you will be directed to a designated hotel.
Visits to retirement homes will be possible but limited as carers progressively return to work. For non Covid-19 illnesses, consult a doctor over the phone, and go to hospital for emergencies. If you are vulnerable, you should always wear a mask outside of home. Consultations are 100% covered by l’Assurance Maladie. Contact the Red Cross if you need help for loneliness (and take a look at our previous post on health and wellbeing).
A strict health protocol has been implemented to re-open schools – you can access this on the education ministry’s website – and classes will be limited to 15 students (or 10 in maternelle). In green départements, on Monday 11 May primaires will re-open, and on 18 May collèges will re-open. On 11 May all elementary school teachers will return to work (or 12 May depending on the size and location of the school); however, students will not all return to school at the same time. Priority will be given to children of key workers, disabled children and children at risk of marginalisation. Parents will be informed this week as to the gradual return of their children’s schools. Four different educational options vary from home schooling to returning to school, depending on the local situation. Between 80-85% of schools will re-open to a little over one million students from 12 May.
The French government wants to achieve a resumption of ‘normal’ services by 2 June, whilst continuing social distancing measures. RATP will increase its services from 30% today to 75% from Monday 11 May. In the Ile-de-France, transport will be limited at rush hours to those with an attestation for essential travel, for example, for childcare, healthcare or work. Some stations will be closed to avoid overcrowding. Travelling on a TGV or on transport in the Ile de France at rush hour without an attestation will result in a fine. Those who can continue to work from home should do so.
To avoid traffic and keep pollution low car-sharing schemes or bicycles are recommended. Transport to other regions will be very limited, with TGV and Intercité services rising from 7% to 20-30% by Monday 11 May and 100% by the end of the month. Train capacity will be limited at 50% and tickets must be booked in advance. Travellers over the age of 11 must wear masks or face a fine of €135. Masks and hand sanitiser will be made available. Floor markings will be put in place to aid social distancing measures, and all means of transport (trains, busses, trams and metros) will be disinfected at least once a day.
Travel & Social
You will be free to travel up to 100km (as the crow flies) from your home, including outside your home département, or to travel more than 100km if your trip remains within your home département, without restriction or attestation. If you are stopped by the police, carrying proof of address, e.g. insurance documents, will suffice. In order to travel more than 100km from home, you will need a new type of online or paper attestation, which you can find on the Interior Ministry website from 11 May. Travelling more than 100km for urgent family or work reasons is permitted, e.g. to help an elderly parent, attend a funeral, for childcare, but travelling to a second home or travelling for leisure would not count. 20,000 police and gendarmes will be checking attestations at stations, tourist locations, and on the roads, and you may be fined €135 if you travel more than 100km without the attestation. If you travel, you will need to carry proof of address. Anyone who has been in confinement away from home, e.g. at a second home, is now allowed to travel home.
Libraries and small museums will re-open from Monday. Cinemas, music venues and indoor sports halls will remain closed. Individual outdoor sport will be permitted. Gatherings will be limited to 10 people, and you must observe social distancing measures. There will be no events of over 5,000 people until September. Beaches and lakes remain closed, unless re-opened by mayors and préféctures if they can guarantee social distancing measures – please check with your local authority in the first instance. A discussion on re-opening places of worship for services will take place at the end of the month.
Border restrictions on arrivals from outside Europe remain in place until further notice, and current measures at the border with neighbouring European countries will remain in place until 15 June. There will be some exceptions, for example for essential schooling,  or for workers, for example seasonal agricultural workers.  Borders will re-open to European countries through joint decisions as the health situation improves.
Business and Working Practices
All business will re-open on Monday 11 May, except for those designed as social spaces such as cafés, bars and restaurants - the date for these will be determined at the end of May. 400,000 businesses will re-open on Monday, from hairdressers to clothes shops and florists to book shops. Large shopping centres of 40,000m² will re-open, except in the Ile-de-France. Factories will re-open. The self-employed and SMEs will continue to have access to solidarity funds until the end of May even if they re-open for business. Social charges for businesses which closed from March, April and May will not be maintained.
Health precautions such as social distancing will be implemented at work. Masks will be made available in shops, mairies, pharmacies, online and at work with VAT at 5.5%. People should continue to work remotely if possible – this is especially crucial in the Ile-de-France. Staggered working hours will be brought in to avoid rush hours. 54 online guides are available for businesses such as hairdressers. A separate guide for apprenticeships will be made available.

Travelling more than 100 kms

You can get the certificate on the interieur.gouv.fr website.  For moving more than 100kms 
For example I had an inqury for going to an appointment from St.Antonin area to Toulouse, I felt your appointment letter would be enough to show but for belt and braces this document may be best to have

Latest update

Thanks to the Connexion once again. Latest update from President Macron

Lockdown measures will be eased in France from Monday May 11 as hoped, the prime minster has announced.

The rules explained today are largely as previously announced, though with new details – for example to travel more than 100km leaving your own department, you will need a new kind of attestation form indicating that it is for an urgent work or family reason.

 As expected, France has been divided into green (good) or red (bad) areas depending on factors including numbers of new cases of people testing postive for Covid-19, how well the hospitals are coping, and availability of testing.

Areas classed as red are Ile-de-France, Grand Est, Bourgogne-Franche-Comté and Hauts-de-France.

In green areas, parks and gardens may reopen and collèges (early age secondary schools) may reopen from May 18.

In red areas collèges will remain closed this month, however in all areas primary schools will reopen in May, in most cases from Monday, though parents can choose whether or not to keep children at home in distance learning.

For the most part however the same rules will apply everywhere.

Beaches and lakes and water sports centres will remain closed, unless prefects decide otherwise. 

There will also be a need for particular vigilance in Mayotte and Ile-de-France, the prime minister said, as Covid-19 cases are increasing in the former while in the latter they are not reducing as quickly as had been hoped.

The situation will be reevaluated at the end of May in hopes of further relaxation of rules from June 2.

There will be no obligatory confinement for ‘at risk’ groups, and no more attestation forms for ordinary trips outside the home.

However those who know they are likely to be more vulnerable due to advanced age or chronic health conditions should nonetheless continue as far as possible to maintain similar measures to during the confinement period or for example they should use masks if having occasional visitors.

Anyone experiencing likely symptoms such as a persistent dry cough, breathing difficulties or loss of taste or smell should contact their GP, a duty doctor or call 15 (Samu). You may be asked to take a free test in a hospital, test lab, in a drive-through service or at home. If you test positive your doctor will also alert the Assurance Maladie, who will make enquiries as to who you have had recent contact with.

These people will be contacted if necessary will be asked to self-isolate (and will be able to obtain free masks at pharmacies) and if will have the option of isolation away from home such as in a hotel room if it is difficult at home.

They will be asked to take sick leave from work if they cannot work from home.

They will be tested seven days after their last contact with the infected person, but even if testing negative will be asked to observe one more week of isolation so as to be sure.

A free number on 0800 130 000 remains in place if you have questions related to the epidemic and what you need to do.

With regard to struggling small businesses, the fonds de solidarité help will be renewed for May and employers’ social charges will be cancelled from March to May for all sectors that were forced to close.

Some 70 guides to work sectors will be available from the end of the week on the Work Ministry’s website, as well as a national framework on matters like physical distance at work. Homeworking is still recommended where possible.

Sunday, 3 May 2020

Spanish Flu, there are similarities

And people stayed at home
And read books
And listened
And they rested
And did exercises
And made art and played
And learned new ways of being
And stopped and listened
More deeply
Someone meditated, someone prayed
Someone met their shadow
And people began to think differently
And people healed.
And in the absence of people who
Lived in ignorant ways
Dangerous, meaningless and heartless,
The earth also began to heal
And when the danger ended and
People found themselves
They grieved for the dead
And made new choices
And dreamed of new visions
And created new ways of living
And completely healed the earth
Pandemic, 1919
Photo taken during Spanish flu

Friday, 1 May 2020

The first of May

White rabbits
Wishing you all to be safe and well,and making the most of each precious day we have.

Thursday, 30 April 2020

A donkey cart for a floral display

My project today is to finish painting the donkey cart, things to do in lock down !

Wednesday, 29 April 2020

No Friends of the English Theatre shows this year

No English Theatre at Les Cabannes this year

On behalf of the FET committee first of all we hope you are all surviving the COVID 19 threat and lockdown in the best way that you are able to.  Difficult times for everyone.

Although the end of the strict lockdown is in sight, things are still very much in the air as to what will happen over the next few months. Given this uncertainty the FET committee have taken the decision to suspend our programme for this year i.e. until Spring 2021.

Our best wishes go to you and yours for the future months and we look forward to seeing you again next year.

Stay safe

 Ruth Etridge FET Secretary

Coming up if we are lucky

The situation currently in France. 

Big update today as we enter our 7th week of lockdown here in France.  The Prime Minister presented to the parliament, the government's plan moving forward out of lockdown for a vote.
First, a few of you have shown an interest in how the French political system works.  For this vote, the parliament only allowed 75 people into the arena, sitting 2 meters apart.  Normally, there are hundreds.  But the top 8 political parties sent their representatives for a total of 75 people.  At the end, the Prime Minister got a standing ovation, so I have no doubt this plan for "déconfinement" will go into law.
First, the PM, Edouard Philippe, stressed that all decisions were made in accordance with 3 goals in mind.
1.  We have to learn to live with the virus.  France is far, far from "herd immunity".  It is here to stay and our way of life is going to change until a vaccine is found.
2.  They are going to try to avoid the "second wave" of infection once everything opens up again.
3.  There are vast differences between départements, (like counties in the US), and so, the government is going to make decisions based on which département is allowed to do what.
To control the 2nd Wave, they are going to be conducting around 700,000 tests per week.  Their math was calculated by assuming 3,000 new cases per day after May 11.  After confinement on 11 May, they calculate that those 3,000 people will have been in contact with 20-25 other people every day.  Since it takes, on average, 7 days for these 3,000 people to get symptoms and get tested, they will have come into contact with 175 people that week.  Which equals 525,000 tests per week but, to be on the safe side, they are allowing 700,000 tests per week.
These 3,000 people who test positive every day have a choice of going into quarantine in their own home or into a hotel the government is requisitioning.  
Also, to control the 2nd wave, they are not discounting its' use in the future, but, for right now, since it doesn't work, they are not going to be using the tracking app called Stop-Covid.
And, if at any time between now and the day of déconfinement, 11 May, the numbers go up and certain criteria are not met, they are reserving the right to change anything else that I am about to tell you and\or extend our lockdown.
So here we go.  
1.  We are all on probation between 11 May and 2 June.  If we all behave and follow the rules, we go into 2nd Probation, which is 2 June to mid-July.  In other words, baby steps.
2.  We are now divided into Red Départements and Green Départements.  Red Zones will have limited circulation.  Green Zones will have a higher level of circulation.
This is based on 3 criteria.  A) The rate of active cases in the population remains elevated over the course of any given 7 days, indicating an active virus in the area.  B)  The hospital capacity remains overwhelmed, and, C)  The testing capacity and the system of tracking the chains of contamination of each positive case are deemed to be insufficient.  BOOM.  Red Zone.
3.  Schools.  Starting from the youngest.  Day care centers open 11 May.  Health care workers and teachers are to be given priority to available spots.  10 kids allowed, maximum, unless it is a BIG day care center and they are able to divide into enough big spaces to ensure a completely autonomous space for each 10 kids.  None of the 10 kids or their caregivers can meet\mingle in any common area, ever, within the facility.  Masks obligatory for staff.  Masks prohibited for infants\children.
Preschools and elementary schools.  Open 11 May, but voluntary in both Red and Green Zones.  If you don't want to send your kid, you don't have to.  Masks are prohibited in this age group of kids, except the school nurse will have masks on hand to give out to a child between the time they start to exhibit symptoms and when the parent comes to pick them up.  
Middle schools begin in Green Zones 18 May.  Masks are obligatory for this age group, both teachers and students.  Middle schools in Red Zones to be determined.
High Schools and Higher Education in Green Zones start beginning of June.  Masks obligatory.  Red Zones, who knows?
4.  Work.  Employers must continue to find any way to let their workers work from home, even after 11 May.  If it is not possible, then the employers must try to stagger the hours their people are working in order to do 2 things:  avoid having multiple people in the office\factory at one time and to also alleviate the crowds on public transport.  If the employer cannot guarantee social distancing between employees, they must wear masks.
5.  Commerce.  All commerce is allowed to open on 11 May except cafés, bars, restaurants and hotels.  Masks are recommended while shopping, but not obligatory.  However, any shop owner can make the wearing of masks obligatory in their shop.  As far as malls, it is up to each préfecture, (county seat), to determine if the open areas of their malls where people like to gather shall remain open or roped off.  
6.  Public Transport.  Right now, public transport is running at about 6% of its' normal capacity.  On 11 May, they anticipate that public transport will be running at about 30%.  And, on these reduced métros, trains, buses, etc., it will be obligatory to wear masks.  No one is allowed on the public transport during rush hour except workers.  Social distancing will be maintained by blocking every other seat and taping lines on the platforms 1 meter apart for those waiting for the train, bus, métro, etc.
7.  Going Outside Your House.  After 11 May you no longer have to bring our famous piece of paper with you, (l'Attestation de Déplacement Dérogatoire), except in the case of traveling more than 100km.  The only two reasons you are allowed to travel from one département to another or one région to another is that it is imperative to your work or you have an extremely pressing family obligation.  
We are now allowed, after 11 May, to venture further than 1km from our house to pursue individual sports, like jogging or biking or hiking.  We must still maintain social distancing during this.  
Still not allowed:  collective sports, sports taking place under a roof in an enclosed space, (sorry gyms), contact sports.
Public parks and gardens in Green Zones will be open.  All beaches closed, red or green, until at least 1 June.  
8.  Cultural Life.  Libraries and small museums can open 11 May.  Community Halls can open 2 June.
No big museums, cinemas, theaters, concert halls until further notice.  (Sorry, Louvre.)
Maybe September:  big sporting events, cultural events, festivals, trade shows, anything of more than 5,000 people.  Soccer season (professional football) 2019-2020 cancelled altogether.
9.  Churches, Marriages, Funerals, Gatherings
Church doors can remain open, like always, even now, but mass cannot begin until 2 June.  (Americans, our beautiful churches here are always open for people to just come in and ogle at the architecture or light a candle for a saint or whatever.)
Marriages and funerals will be allowed after 2 June with a maximum of 20 people.
Cemetairies open back up on 11 May.
All gatherings in public places, (i.e. parks), or private places, (i.e. your deck), from 11 May onward are limited to 10 people.

The future plan

Tuesday, 28 April 2020

Admire them from a distance

An update on grass snakes
Hi Val,
My sister, Anne, alerted me to your comments on snake bites after I’d told her about our current situation. Alexa, one of our Salukis, woke yesterday morning screaming. On inspection, we found that her neck was badly swollen and bruised which it had not been the previous evening when she had seemed to be her usual self, apart from refusing her evening meal.  Initially, we assumed that she may have had  a skirmish with one of the other dogs except we had neither seen nor heard anything to suggest this. However, when we cleaned off the wound we saw the unmistakable signs of a snake bite which was confirmed when I was able to squeeze a large amount of infected blood from it.  I washed the wound with saline, then applied an antibacterial liquid and gave Alexa an antibiotic   and repeated the process in the evening. By this morning Alexa was once again eating and the swelling had gone down, as had the blood seepage, but there is  tissue damage  so I have applied some clinically treated veterinary Manuka honey which is antibacterial and should help the healing process.  Nevertheless, the wound remains an unsightly, nasty mess.
Clearly, the snake was not an adder. Had it been Alexa would probably have died, especially given the site of the bite high on her neck.  We are assuming  the culprit was a grass snake that had emerged from hibernation.  All of which is by way of reinforcing your warning to pet owners and gardeners alike.  Grass snakes need to be taken seriously because although not venomous they are toxic.
I hope that you are not finding ‘lockdown’ too tortuous.
Stay safe.

Monday, 27 April 2020

Spring is wonderful but.....

Not everything in the garden is rosy
Just found the first tick on one of our dogs this morning, fortunately I had a tick fork and removed it before it got too large
So watch your pets for ticks
Also be careful with snakes, last spring our cat Max ended up on a drip for 3 days after being bitten by a a snake. We think it was a grass snake which Max had taken on, we found it dead and mauled later. The vet explained when any snake wakes up it is full of toxins and even a  normally harmless snake can be worth avoiding in the spring.
Processionary caterpillars can also be about in the spring, many friends  and pets have been affected by the barbs they throw out if you get close, so just be aware of them.
A picture of some roses in the garden after such a miserable post.


Saturday, 18 April 2020

Wednesday, 15 April 2020

The wisteria is beautiful at the moment

The wisteria / glycine here in Varen does not know of troubles with  Covid 19 and spreads its beauty as it does every spring

Tuesday, 14 April 2020

I am sending you early happiness

My Muguet / Lily of the valley is flowering, now I know it is given on the 1st of May as a symbol of happiness
I just felt as it was flowering now I would like to send everyone some happiness, from me to you

In France, 1st May is a public holiday to mark Labour Day. It is also known as “la Fete du Muguet” or “Lilly of the Valley Day”, when thousands of bunches of these distinctive flowers are sold around France, and given to loved ones as a symbol of happiness.


Saturday, 11 April 2020

We will overcome

A gloriously Happy Easter everyone
We will get through this, we will 💖

The Moulin in  Varen many years ago

A letter from Australia

I received this email this morning from a fairly new part time resident of Varen. I thought you would be interested

Dear Friends,
We have been thinking about you and France and our house in Varen. We just wanted to stay in contact even if just in a small way via email. Of course, we won’t be coming to France this year. No Saturday market outside our door, no sweating it out in the Summer’s heat, no walking, or riding or driving around the beautiful countryside. No vide greniers😿, meals at the Moulin, visits to surrounding towns, swimming in the river, etc etc, the list could go on! Sadly, it’s probably the same for you as it may be a northern summer spent largely indoors or social distancing.
Anyway, it is our hope that you, and all the elderly residents who are our kind and patient neighbours, are all avoiding the dreaded virus.
As winter here is just around the corner, we are both well and observing the stage 3 restrictions that are in place. So far, Australia has been doing quite well with the mathematical curve flattening below 1.0, which is good.
We are fortunate to be on our small farm with endless tasks to keep us occupied and we barely notice much change to our lives as we are pretty self isolating even when there is no pandemic! 
Hoping you all stay well and really looking forward to meeting up again when life gets back to post-Covid normal.

And my reply

How lovely to hear your news but so sorry you will not be able to get here this year
Us Brits thought Brexit was bad but now this.
Mains Tendues is closed ,  for who knows how long. All the staff and I am sure customers miss it.
My husband died in November from his cancer and two weeks after I moved into the village. How stressful it was a week before Christmas, but how thankful I am to be here in the village now. I have a house up past the Vival and school and I am pleased I have a nice sized garden. Friends can walk dogs and we have chats over the gate social distancing of course
I can see this going on for quite some time and it is terrible to hear of friends who have died.
Stay safe, enjoy your place which sounds perfect, a bit like Mas del Sol my former home which had two houses and two hectares, fabulous for two fit people.
Lots of love and I will pass your message on to other Mains Tendues staff
Love Val Johnstone

Wednesday, 8 April 2020

Macron speech Thursday 9 th April

President Emmanuel Macron is to make a speech on French television and radio tomorrow at 20:00 to update the nation on the evolution of Covid-19 in France.

The president is expected to clarify about a possible extension of home confinement which is currently due to last until April 15.

He is also expected to address the issue of whether or not people should wear masks in public as well as the potential digital tracking of infected people and the future date of municipal elections which are set to now be postponed to March 2021.

It will be the fourth time that the president has addressed the nation since the start of the epidemic. 

As the sun comes, it brings hope

Every morning we have been having the sun of late. It brings hope to us all.
Stay safe, stay in, stay cheerful