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I bought a bottle of Blanquette from Tescos the other day, despite its price of £9.99 - there is always reason to celebrate. 

In the evening I thought that the time had arrived, the sun was over yard-arm and all that, so I took off the foil and was confronted by a black plastic top with a black plastic pull.

  I worked out the logic and unwound it like the skin of an orange.   It separated from the cap and I was rather worried I wouldn’t gain access to the contents.   I then read some instructions on the top of the remaining faux cork and removed same which came away with a rather muted pop.  If I had been of that persuasion I could have drunk part of the bottle contents and put the cork thing back in and kept some for another day - yeah right. I attempted the process between refills and once you have the hang of pulling it off its fine.

It’s called a Zork SPK, and is a rather large packaging company in Northlake, Illinois and is the owner of what will probably become the norm for sparkling wine packaging.  This is a company that also makes and sells the ‘bag in a box and tap’ not only to package wine but also automotive chemicals etc. and a host of other packaging type stuff.

They also make a Zork STL for still wine, the clue is in the title, although I can’t quite see how the system would benefit a still wine.   It would be just the same as a screw top but more complicated for the end user, there are times where a simple twist being the only barrier to a glug glug glug is optimum. Don’t get me wrong there are also times when the process of removing a cork is enjoyable as a little ceremony in its own right.



I am surprised I haven’t heard the conspiracy theorists coming up with the idea that the supermarket in Latvia and the shopping centre in south Africa which both collapsed had been sabotaged by online retailers.  Was it purely a coincidence that they both happened a couple of weeks before Cyber Monday, the biggest on line shopping day of the year?  This is projected to be next Monday.  What better way to push the unconvinced to sit down in the safety of their home to purchase things rather than risk a shop roof on their head.

I wish you a happy one month lead up to Christmas, Hanukkah, and even Thanksgiving or have all three why don’t you?







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You knew it had to come, didn’t you?  How long has it been since I wrote about my favourite subject – assurance vie?  OK, I’ve mentioned it occasionally, but this time you’re going to get the Full Monty, but with a difference.  What assurance vie (let’s call it AV) is, what it does, how it does it and why you should have one.  Oh, and why you should let me organise it for you, and all without any numbers; percentages, tax law reference numbers or other bulls-droppings. 

AV is what makes this job worth doing.  It’s not perfect though, and you have sometimes to really work at it to get it right.  You can lose money, but if you do it will the markets that do the damage, not AV itself.  AV is completely well-intentioned.  Every aspect of it is designed to save money; for you when you’re alive, and for your beneficiaries when you’re dead.  Yes, dead.  Not ‘passed away’, ‘disparu’ or ‘no longer with us’.  Dead.  I hate all that wishy-washy stuff.  AV lets people look back at you fondly.  ‘He may have been a miserable old bugger, but at least he left us a few bob’.

AV is that secret little box that you keep in the attic with all your papers in it.  The best thing about that little box is that the French tax man shows no interest at all as to what’s you have stored inside it.  Until that is you start splashing the cash; then he starts to ask how much you’ve made out of it while he’s not been watching.  That’s the only bit he’s allowed to be interested in.  And just to prove that he’s a big softie really, if you’ve had the AV box long enough, he’ll turn a blind eye to enough of that profit to keep you ticking over quite nicely, thank you.

Mind you, he’s a bit picky as to where you buy your box.  He used to insist that you bought it in France, but then all that ‘Europe’ stuff came along and Brussels told him to behave himself, so he became a bit sneaky (yes, really).  As well as all the boxes decorated in the Tricolor motif, he pretended to turn a blind eye to all sorts of designs; one of which was the Union Jack, on the basis of ‘One for all, all for me’.  A few British companies twigged what was going on, and made sure that their policies really were AVs in every sense.  These very few companies, and their clients, sleep well at night knowing that there won’t be surprise technicalities thrown at them sometime in the future.

What we have now then is four types of investment bond; the domestic ‘French’ AV, very dull, very boring, very low return.  Then we have my favourite, which I call the true ‘Expat’ AV.  Straight down the line; no confusion as to charges, and a return that reflects your choice of investment.  Next we have the ‘Legacy AV’, which is the good old UK bond that you had before you came here, and which some claim to be a full AV.  But is it?  And finally we have the ‘No Way’ AV,  the Jersey bond, or Guernsey, or the IOM or even BVI.  For your guide there is not a snowball’s chance in hell of this being an AV.  When Brussels said to play ball on European products the ‘fisc’ knew that he could keep anything that doesn’t have ‘made in Europe’ stamped on its backside firmly within his sights.

It should be fairly obvious to any expat with a brain that money in UK or French bank accounts, or especially in ISAs or Peps, simply isn’t working hard enough.  That means it’s not growing quickly enough, and what little growth you do get each year, you pay a chunk to the tax man over here.  If you do have money invested in a bond, ask yourself which AV version you have.  If it’s not a true Expat AV, it’s not good enough.  If you want to put this abject situation right, I am the man to sort it for you.  I will explain every aspect  in clear, plain English; I will even fill in the forms for you to sign, and I will never touch a single penny or cent of your money.

With an Expat AV organised by me you get a free financial adviser for life, or as long as you want one, your choice.  I’ll send you a valuation every quarter, just to make sure you’re keeping tabs on it, and if you have any concerns we’ll meet and sort out what to do.  If you want to see your balance more often, you’ll be able to see it online, or just ask me to get it for you anytime.  Regular reviews make for better investments.  Then when that old mortgage endowment pays out, or you get a sad inheritance, you’ll have someone there to talk to.  It helps.

There we are then, AV without numbers!

If you have any questions on this, or any other subject, please don’t hesitate to contact me,Rob Hesketh:

By phone on 0468 247758 or mobile 0631 787647

Or by mail at  

You can find out more about Spectrum on  and


The Spectrum IFA Group advisers do not charge any fees for their time or for advice given, as can be seen from our Client Charter at



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It's all relative - don't let your body hibernate this winter!

So........ it looks like winter is starting and let's face it, all you feel like doing is cosying under a blanket on the sofa and staying there until the Spring - right?  WRONG! Your body won't thank you - and anyway, you don't want to hit the beach next summer looking like a lardy cake. So shake a leg and get that body MOVING!

Some health reasons to maintain or increase your activity during the winter period:


Weight and Blood Pressure

Some of the primary benefits of exercise include maintaining a healthy weight and regulating blood pressure. When you don't move, you burn fewer calories each day. An excess of just 500 calories per day translates into a weight gain of 1 pound per week or 4 pounds per month. When you gain weight, you have an increased risk for high blood pressure, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.


Bones and Strength

Sitting around or lying around all day makes you weak. Unless you continuously use the major muscle groups in your body, they don't  strengthen. If you are older, you lose the battle against muscle atrophy or wasting with every year that passes. Bones also lose density with age, and lack of weight-bearing exercise plays a role in osteoporosis, or brittle bones. Your body responds to the demands you put on it, and if you do not exercise, your muscles and bones weaken with time.


Exercise for Endurance

Just walking up a flight of stairs can make you short of breath if you are out of shape. Lack of exercise can lead to a lack of energy and endurance. The listlessness you feel makes doing something active feel even less appealing , and the vicious circle continues. Breaking a long period of inactivity is not easy, particularly if you are overweight or have a medical condition. Starting slow with just a few minutes of walking daily gets you moving safely.


Mental Health

Lack of exercise can lead to a diminished sense of well-being. Your body loses muscle tone and strength and your self-esteem can suffer as a result. Aerobic exercise such as swimming or running stimulates your body to release endorphins. Endorphins are natural painkillers that help elevate your mood. Resuming physical activity benefits your mental health as well as your physical health.

The bottom line is that humans were designed to function optimally by being active - this doesn't have to be 'planned exercise', here are some ideas to get you started:

Do active housework like sweeping, mopping, vacuuming, doing laundry, or washing the windows. You can stay active while you keep your home looking good!

Bundle up, and take the dog for a walk every day - if you haven't got a dog, take the neighbour!


Find a swimming pool - there are public pools at Mirepoix, Pamiers, Saverdun etc. The opening hours aren't always great but find a time that you CAN do! Be positive.


Try a class over the winter - yoga, fitness, zumba, dancing etc. It's a great time to try something and you can't really use the excuse that you'd rather be doing the gardening at this time of year!


Try a new winter activity like cross-country skiing, or snowshoeing - although it's cold in the snow, as long as you have enough layers on and are well-prepared, the reward of being out in the sunshine with clear blue skies takes some beating!


Top Tip: turn your heating down a notch, you'll feel the cold less (inside vs outside temperature won't be so much of a shock) and you'll bun more calories as your body has to work a bit harder to keep you warm.

If you aren't wearing at least one jumper, you've probably got your heating up too high.



It's NOT easy to motivate yourself to be more active during the winter - the key is to move regularly so that it becomes 'normal' and you begin to appreciate the feeling of improved health that it will undoubtedly bring.

Nobody can do it for you.

Pat Penny - Health and Fitness Specialist,  Massage Therapist
European Register of Exercise Professionals















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Mea culpa - in the Flyer on 14th Nov I mentioned the  small red & black insects called  Cherche-Midi/Gendarmes/Soldats Suisse; Firebugs in English and Pyrrhocoris apteris in Latin but somehow put in a photo of Salvia Indigo Spires - many apologies and here is a photo of a gendarme.

We have had an amazing amount of rain recently and some areas have already had some snow, definite signs that winter is with us and that we should start to think about the effect of cold on plants and preparing for the cold weather.  Cold weather, especially frost, causes the water in plant cells to freeze and damages the cell wall; plant growth becomes limp and blackened, evergreens turn brown.  In principle the cold hardiness of a plant is the minimum temperature that a plant can support without damage to plant tissue.  It is often the case that a plant is damaged by cold but can regenerate from the rootstock, the healthy part.  So, one can distinguish between the death of the plant and reversible damage that the plant can sustain.  It is worth noting that a number of popular plants which retain their foliage in milder climates, for example Plumbago capensis and Cassia floribunda may re-grow from the roots in our climate.  Winter temperatures can vary greatly throughout the Languedoc; mild coastal regions may only experience a degree or two of frost, while inland areas at altitude can easily get -12°C, often more.

One should note that when a cold hardiness figure of, say, -8°C, is given for a plant it is an indication rather than a certain value.  The amount of damage done by cold weather is the product of a number of factors.  The duration of cold is significant; a brief hour at -10°C may not cause much damage whereas several hours of cold over several nights will cause problems.  Also significant is the amount the temperature rises during the day, a temperature of -3°C early in the morning will be much less damaging if the daytime temperatures ascend to 10°C than if daytime temperatures stay around the zero mark. Acclimatisation is important too, a well established plant with a deep root system will support more cold than a young plant or a plant in a pot.  Equally, there is the timing of frost - an early cold spell after a mild autumn while plants are still in a state of growth is more damaging than the same degree of cold in the middle of winter when plants are dormant. This is why one shouldn't continue irrigation late into autumn as it encourages sappy growth that is more cold susceptible. Similarly, a late frost in April after plants have started growing is more damaging than mid winter cold. Don't forget to study the microclimates in your garden and after cold weather note which areas are most affected and bear this in mind for future planting schemes.  Soil is important too. It is frequently the combination of cold plus humidity which kills, so a plant in dry, well drained soil will tolerate more cold than a plant in damp soil. Many plants from  Mediterranean and dry climates prefer well drained soil, so improve the drainage when you plant. Frost problems can also be exacerbated where plants face east and the morning sun defrosts cell walls too quickly.  A final point to consider is that plants can still die from drought (rather than cold) during the winter. If the soil is frozen but daytime temperatures rise, the plant will start to transpire and need water, which won't be accessible to the plant if the soil is frozen. This may particularly be the case with young plants and with evergreens where it may be beneficial to give a little warm water.

On the basis that prevention is better than cure one should think about how to avoid the effects of cold on plants in the garden.  Golden foliaged and variegated plants are often more tender; avoid high nitrogen fertilisers which tend to encourage sappy growth; place tender plants in sheltered parts of the garden and protect them by mulching or winter fleece and wait to prune plants until the spring, thus allowing old growth to protect the plant base. Plants in pots can be brought into the shelter of a veranda or plunged into the ground so that roots are protected; sensible too to raise the pot onto little 'feet' or bits of broken tile to improve drainage. Protect the pot with hessian or bubble wrap and the foliage with winter fleece.  Don't wrap foliage with bubble wrap as it keep the air around the plant too humid. It is always worth taking cuttings of tender plants in the autumn as additional insurance.

Until we get severe frosts there are still plants in flower and the lovely Nerine bowdenii (Guernsey Lily) is in full flower at the moment bringing a touch of colour to the late autumn garden, it likes a sunny position with well drained soil. 

 For any garden queries do get in touch with Gill Pound ( 04 68 78 43 81 or ). La Petite Pépinière de Caunes 21, av de la Montagne Noire (route de Citou) 11160 Caunes-Minervois. Open during the winter months by appointment. 












The Property Page




 front door 011smallarcher

 Razes circulade village



Period house in a beautiful Razes circulade village.  This renovated but unspoilt house is over 200 years old and has far reaching views of countryside, hills and mountains from almost every room, and a stunning roof terrace.  There are 3 double bedrooms, large lounge, separate dining room and kitchen.  There is also a very large walk-thru cellar.  The house retains many period features including a beautiful oak staircase.  Price 110,000 euros.  Please contact for further details and viewings.







 Detached modern house

for sale in Montréal


Villa for sale 11390 Brousses-et-Villaret Aude 295,000 €


Bordebasse du Lac - Cottage available for long term rental

20120902-IMG 1663

CARCASSONNE: villa for quick sale - €135,000-


Holiday Apartment AiguaBlava,

Costa Brava


Naturist Property 97,500 euro


for 13 editions (6months)
link to your own web page






Some vide greniers and foires!
Please check before setting off
They also have a sister site where you can giveaway stuff or find stuff others are giving
Its all recycling - you know it makes sense!
If there are two in the same town on the same day, it could be a duplicate on the site or a second event
Black = Aude - Brown = Ariege


Samedi 30 Novembre 2013 

Coursan  (Coursan)

Cuxac-d'Aude  (bourse aux jouets)

Montbrun-des-Corbières  (le Chateau Vieux Moulin vide ses greniers)

Narbonne  (vide grenier dimanches et jours feries)

Narbonne  (bourse aux jouets aux livres et articles de puericulture)

Saverdun  (vide-Greniers / Brocante)

Dimanche 1 Décembre 2013

Alzonne  (bourse aux jouets et periculture)

Capendu  (marché de Noel et Bourse aux jouets)

Carcassonne  (vide greniers brocante)

Carcassonne  (bourse aux jouets Puériculture)

Couffoulens  (bourse aux jouets et vêtements enfants)

Coursan  (vide grenier fcpe st exupery-r.chavernac)

Coursan  (vide grenier)

Cuxac-d'Aude  (bourse aux jouets)

Fitou  (bourse aux jouets et puericulture)

Fleury d'aude  (bourses Jouets)

Ginestas  (bourse aux jouets)

Lézignan-Corbières  (loto de l'unprg et des médailles militaires)

Limoux  (marché aux puces)

Luc-sur-Orbieu  (bourse aux jouets)

Marseillette  (bourse aux jouets et puériculture)

Montbrun-des-Corbières  (le Chateau Vieux Moulin vide ses greniers)

Montmaur  (bourse aux jouets et marché de Noël de l'Ecole de Montmaur)

Montredon  (bourse aux jouets)

Narbonne  (vide grenier dimanches et jours feries)

Pexiora  (bourse aux vêtements et jouets)

Routier  (vide -greniers du telethon)

Salles-sur-l'Hers  (marché de Noël)

Salvezines  (marche de noel)

Castelnau-Durban  (marche de noel & vide greniers oriente cadeaux (livres, jou.)

Daumazan-sur-Arize  (6ème bourse aux jouets et articles de puériculture)

Eycheil  (vide grenier de l'école d'Eycheil)

Mazères  (vide grenier mensuel)

Mirepoix  (49° bourses toutes collections)


Pamiers  (Marché et puces et à la brocantes)

Saverdun  (bourse aux jouets)

Tarascon-sur-Ariège  (vide-grenier)

Vendredi 6 Décembre 2013 

Saint-Félix-de-Rieutort  (marché de Noël)

Samedi 7 Décembre 2013   

Coursan  (Coursan)

Labécède-Lauragais  (vide grenier du telethon)

Narbonne  (vide grenier dimanches et jours feries)

Quillan  (vide grenier du telethon)

Rieux-Minervois  (vide grenier chez l'habitant)

Les Bordes-sur-Arize  (marché de Noêl)

Saverdun  (vide-Greniers / Brocante de Noël)

Dimanche 8 Décembre 2013


Arzens  (bourse aux jouets de puericulture à Arzens)

Bize-Minervois  (vide Grenier de la Calandreta Lo Cigal)

Carcassonne  (vide greniers brocante)

Carlipa  (bourse aux jouets, vêtements, puériculture & marché de Noël)

Caunes-Minervois  (vide grenier)

Cépie  (bourse aux Jouets)

Coursan  (vide grenier marché artisanal et animation pour enfants)

Coursan  (vide grenier)

Leucate  (vide grenier du rugby)

Montolieu  (bourse aux jouets et matériel de puériculture)

Narbonne  (vide Grenier de l'école Maternelle Jean de la Fontaine)

Narbonne  (vide grenier dimanches et jours feries)

Narbonne  (bourse aux Jouets)

Pomas  (loto pour le Telethon)

Port-la-Nouvelle  (bourse aux jouets)

Puicheric  (vide grenier)

Rieux-Minervois  (bourse aux cadeaux de la saint nicolas)

Rieux-Minervois  (bourse aux bibelots, cadeaux, jouets etc)

Rieux-Minervois  (vide grenier chez l'habitant)

Saint-Papoul  (vide-grenier salle des fêtes)

Thézan-des-Corbières  (antiquite brocante bourse au jouet)

Lavelanet  (9eme vide greniers du telethon)

Mazères  (bourse de Noël)

Pamiers  (Marché et puces et à la brocantes)

Saint-Félix-de-Rieutort  (marché de Noël) 



 What's On




ASIAN DUB FOUNDATION 29 Nov Bikini Toulouse

JAKE BUGG 10 Dec Bikini Toulouse


CARLA BRUNI 17 Jan Zinga Zanga Beziers

WITHIN TEMPTATION 20 Jan Bikini Toulouse




BABYSHAMBLES 13 Feb Bikini Toulouse

SEPULTURA 25 Feb Bikini Toulouse

CIRQUE DU SOLEIL, QUIDAM 5 TO 9 March Zenith Toulouse

JOHN MAYALL 8 March Bikini Toulouse

BETH HART 19 March Bikini Toulouse

HOLIDAY ON ICE 21 to 23 March Zenith Toulouse

METRONOMY 25 April Zenith Toulouse




readers write 





I will be moving to St Colombe sur l'Hers in the new year all being well ,and would be interested  to know if there are any places in the area where "jam sessions" playing folk,irish, blues,country and western for amateur musicians take place. I play guitar and mandolin to a lesser extent and would like to hear from anyone with similar interests.


Mike Sugden

mail to with comment




 Re a Property Ad



Very helpful. We put an advert in one other online property page. It got a bit more traffic and inquiries but fewer seriously interested buyers. The Flyer group were more serious overall.





Hi Steve

I just wanted to say a huge thank you on behalf of the SPA for promoting our fundraiser at Puivert last saturday. We had a great turnout and exceeded all expectations raising 1200 euros for the SPA and Twilight. We now have the online Auction and Muscial evening to look forward to, so thanks for all your support

Kind regards











minervoisnoel13 Poster Oct Fin
 enxmasfair carc11 noel 
 healthand no gun  osbornehouse
narbonne noel pigink


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