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It’s that time of year to have a clear out and spring clean -  in the last Flyer there was a free vent hood which went immediately, so if you want to recycle it send a photo and text and you can give it away for free.  It’s got to be better than landfill.


So it appears that Francois Hollande will be spending more time with his ex-family by staying in his job and some would say that it was wreckless  making Segolene Royal environment minister. Apparently Miss Trierweiller wouldn’t let him do that before so perhaps the actress was just the fulcrum to remove Valerie so that he could build his cabinet as he wished.


And Silvio Berlusconi has been given a community service task as replacement for his prison sentence (because he’s too old).  He is going to be helping out for a few hours a day in an old peoples’ home.  How different can that be than his previous career?  He is also under a curfew - he can go to his house in Rome during the week but has to be home by 11pm on Thursday evening. It all seems pretty complicated to me and will require several people to keep an eye on him.  Surely if you are too old for prison you are too old for politics by my reckoning?  And this sentence doesn’t seem to be in any way severe enough for his crime....


Patrick Drahi has managed to get his feet under the table in the deal to be worked out to buy SFR from Vivendi and at 11.75 billion euros that seems quite low for the Number 2 telecoms provider in France.  And here’s some background on the French Richard Branson who bought it... according to the story Drahi flies his children in from Lausanne, Tel Aviv and Bristol every Friday for dinner. Now that's one rich and observant Jew.


Tesco's clearly are starting to fail as they have one to many letters in their name, Aldi Lidl and Asda are on the way up and Morrisons are definitely finding it hard, its just a case of too many letters i am sure. I wish Waitrose good luck too, whilst flipping the other day I stopped on Neighbours yes the ozzie soap and noticed that the litttle town square poster wall had an "Aldi now open" poster, i convinced myself it would be just clever marketeers sliding the poster into vision on a deal for the UK market, but no, the chain are already open at a dozen locations down under, that must be a supply chain logistics delight for someone.


Happy Easter








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Since my last article we’ve enjoyed absorbing the somewhat spectacular aftermath of the UK budget.  Spectacular that is if you’re into pensions and all that stuff.  I am, and I’m absolutely fascinated by what is going on at the moment in the world of pensions.  Daphne is the technical expert on all of this of course , with many qualifications and huge experience in the field, and she gave us all the technical low down in her last article.  I’d just like to add my thoughts on why this might be happening.


I do find it somewhat odd that George Osborne seems to have sent a clear message to HMR&C to prepare full a full blown retreat and reversal of the policies that they have pursued avidly over the past eight years. In case you are not aware, April 2006 was ‘A’ Day, when the whole pension industry was overhauled, and QROPS, already born, was really launched on the UK expatriate market.  Saving for your retirement was of paramount importance, and woe betide any financial adviser who dared to try to help a client access their pension funds contrary to the terms approved by HMR&C.


I need to say here that I am completely anti pension busting.  My strong view is that the UK State Pension is pitifully ill equipped to provide us with anything like a comfortable retirement.  Those of you who are lucky enough, or who have been diligent enough to create a decent pension fund are to be congratulated and encouraged to continue in a similar vein.  Pension busting advisers are not acting in the clients’ best interests.  They are in fact acting completely in their own interest; looking to create income and commission where it is not due.


We are (mostly) living longer, and will need to fund longer periods of retirement. Accelerating the pace at which we spend our retirement savings is going to end in tears.  It’s a bit like telling a child who is allowed to buy one bag of sweets a week that he or she can eat them all on day one.  And now we have a new pension buster on the block, Mr George Osborne himself.  The proposals outlined in the budget remind me very much of the government’s war on drugs and drug related crime.  A drug ‘Tzar’ was appointed a few years ago who after a couple of years of beating his head against a brick wall decided that the best thing to do would be to legalise all class A drugs and make them freely available.  I’m not sure if he suggested an suitable tax rate at the same time, but it wouldn’t have surprised me if he did.  Fortunately public outcry defeated that move, but I’m not sure that the same will happen this time round.  This is all about money in your pockets, and that is a powerful lobby.


What worries me most about these proposals is the reason behind them  Please don’t think for one minute that kind Mr Osborne is looking to make life easier for us by removing restrictions on when and how we access our pensions.  What he is actually looking to do is raise his tax yield.  55 years old?  A couple of hundred grand in a pension pot?  Why don’t you take it all out and splash it about a bit?  Treat yourself  to that holiday; that car; that boat.  Help your children progress up the housing ladder, or help your grandchildren get on the ladder.  Tax?, sure, you’ll have to pay high rate tax when you take it, but doesn’t nearly everyone pay high rate tax these days?


Surely there’s a problem here?  Why would the government want to stoke up problems for themselves in the future?   Surely they don’t want droves of hard up pensioners clamouring for state aid in their final decades because they’ve spent all their money.  I’m afraid the answer might be that the government doesn’t really care.  One thing we’ve missed in all of this is the other pension proposals that have been going through.  A raise in the general level of state pension yes, but the complete erosion of many other benefits that have always come to the aid of pensioners who can’t cope.  The message now is ‘Here is your £7,000 a year.  Don’t come back asking for more, because there isn’t any.’


So if the benefits system is largely to be dismantled, surely it makes sense to the government to try to get its hands on as much of the pension savings that currently exist as they can?  They wouldn’t do that, would they?


I think the bottom line here is that we are seeing just how interested the government is becoming in our pension savings.  QROPS allows you to move your pension fund out of UK jurisdiction; have more control, and eradicate all sorts of risks.  I think we should be looking very carefully at protecting our futures.


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






Lost in France


I try really hard with my French.  I listen to French radio and despite the fact it is humourless and quite academic (topics such as the meaning of the word ‘privacy’, the importance of barricades in French social history or the philosophy of Clint Eastwood) I keep at it.  I have French friends who are very kind and help me with my conversation and because of their love of their language I am coming to enjoy their language too.

Recently I went to a vide grenier and purchased a few items.  I am a collector and sometimes a seller so one of the items I bought was an old box with a razor in it along with some blades and a blade-holder.  On visiting another stall the box fell into another larger box so I had to retrieve it.  When I got home I found that the razor and the blade holder had fallen out.  It was worthless without them so I determined to go back and see if I could find the missing items. 

Driving back there I was running through in my mind how to explain to the stall holder what I needed.  Various permutations of ‘I was here half an hour ago and something I had purchased on another stall fell into your box’ were attempted.  I settled on ‘I was here 30 minutes ago and dropped something in a box’.  Pleased with myself, I found the stall-holder and said what I needed to say, she looked at me as though I was a complete idiot and said ‘I have no idea what you are trying to say but you speak French like a Spanish cow’.  I was amused and annoyed at the same time but another customer came to my rescue and explained what I needed.

I later told my neighbour what had happened and she was disgusted by the stall-holder’s ignorance.  She asked me if this would happen in England, I thought about it and in my experience it wouldn’t.  England and the United Kingdom is a mixture of many languages, accents and ways of expressing oneself.  I mean accents can change within less than 20 miles of each other but never would I consider insulting someone because they didn’t speak English clearly.  Most people would try to understand what the other person was saying and I must admit that this is the first time I’ve encountered this while I’ve been in France.

In the end I had a bit of banter with the stall-holder, bought an item and I made a profit on both that and the box with the razor.




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Aude Flyer sept 2013










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The warm weather is continuing so if you are planning to do some spring planting do try and do it sooner rather than later and keep an eye on the watering needs of recently planted items, young plants can dry out quickly with the sort of daytime temperatures that we have been experiencing recently.  Now is a good time to deadhead spring flowering bulbs unless, in the case of botanical species, you want them to set seed and naturalise in the garden.  Weeds, inevitably are shooting up twice as fast as the plants in the garden - do try and keep on top of invasive perennials weeds like couch grass and bindweed with regular weeding, digging out as much as possible of the root system.

One of my favourite plants is the South African native Melianthus major; a sub shrubby plant with huge, dissected, blue/grey evergreen leaves.  It has curious red/brown flowers in May & June born on the previous years growth and can grow to a height and spread of 2 metres or more.  It likes a sunny position with good soil, the foliage is winter hardy to about -5°C but the rootstock will stand at least -8°C or more, especially if well mulched.  An established plant here in Caunes-Minervois survived the prolonged cold spell of Feb 2012.  The foliage makes a terrific backdrop to South African bulbs such as Agapanthus or Watsonia.  Perhaps the biggest difficulty with Melianthus is deciding when to prune it; the foliage is often a bit tatty after the winter and I often prune back to the base in late winter but this means that you won't get flower.  The alternative, unless you let it develop to a rather leggy specimen, is to prune after flowering.

 Just a reminder that we are restricting our regular opening times to one weekend a month but will still always be available at any time for you to come and visit the garden, talk plants etc by appointment - just email or phone to organise a time.  Regular opening times for the next few months will be 11/12/13 April, 9/10/11 May, 6/7/8 June, after that we will review how things have gone.  In addition our annual open weekend will be Sat 31st May and Sun 1st June, put it in your diaries now!  Remember too that we are always happy to organise guided visits of the garden here for groups.

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.

La Petite Pépinière de Caunes
21, av de la Montagne Noire,
11160 Caunes-Minervois
04 68 78 43 81








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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 for further details and viewings.





Former Presbetary with courtyard near town centre



 Village house to renovate with a courtyard of 80m²



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


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 readers write



Hi Steve, thanks for putting the ad in for my extractor fan.. it went almost immediately and was collected by 11am on Friday.. and they very kindly phoned me on Sunday to tell me it was in and working! 




Hi Steve in answer to Julian's inquiry, myself and friends have had very good service from Satenco at Toulouse. They supply everything to do with satellite TV on line and are very helpful with technical advice if you phone up.

Regards Roy




Something your readers should be aware of. I’ve had three lots of calls from an Indian call centre claiming  to be from Microsoft and ringing to correct a problem with my computer which is sending “false messages to the Microsoft server” and “generating spam”. This is a “free service from Microsoft to help its users”. They knew my name, but not what kind of computer or operating system that I was using: but what they wanted to do was for me to allow them remote access to my computer so they could fix the problem.

I’m not completely stupid, of course – my name is in the phone book – so I told them to go forth and multiply. And although they rang back three times, I just kept telling them the same thing. But these scams do fool some people, so I suggest everyone reads this warning on the Microsoft website: As it says there, quite unequivocally, “Neither Microsoft nor our partners make unsolicited phone calls (also known as cold calls) to charge you for computer security or software fixes”.


Martyn Wilson




Hello Steve

Many thanks for your continuing work on the Aude Flyer - I very much agree with your theme in your article regharding the role of your emailed flyer in encouraging English people who are in the area to both network together and also extend their contacts with the French neighbours in their locality.


All the best

Keith Parry





Hi Steve,

I now have more complete info on that article that claimed it was illegal to answer emails after 6 p.m.   It’s an interesting example of how genuine information can be distorted by the press, and the fact that something happened on 1st April doesn’t make it an April Fool.  

All started in 2010 when a guy in Atos (a major French computer services group) who was supposed to handle support for a software package sold internationally failed to reply to a support request from a client in another time zone.   He got a mail Friday evening from an Asian customer and didn’t reply until the following Monday.   Atos was reducing staff in his unit at the time and used that incident as grounds for firing him.   He challenged that in the Labour Courts and after an appeal it ended up in the Supreme Court who issued a ruling dated April 1st 2013 that people working on the basis of “forfait jours” and not office hours were not obliged to reply to mails after normal office hours, and a failure to reply was not a legitimate cause for being sacked.   The court also recommended that employers and unions clarify what was meant by “forfait jours”.

So the computer trade association Syntec and the unions met to negotiate that clarification and signed an agreement dated April 1st 2014 which translated the court judgement into labour law.   The Guardian published that agreement, and their version was reported in France as an April Fool, which it wasn’t.   The Guardian distorted the level of legal obligation (not being sacked for not replying is not the same as the legal ban on replying they described) and also vastly exaggerated the number of people involved:  the Syntec trade agreement covers about 250 000 people who work round the clock shifts or are “on call” after office hours in computer support.

So now you know it all!


John Vernon




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 19 Avril 2014

Bram puces des couturiers

Coursan  vide grenier

Montolieu  21ème salon du livre ancien et d'occasion

Narbonne  vide grenier de st estauche


Dimanche 20 Avril 2014

Bize-Minervois grenier du bsm xv

Bram puces des couturiers

Carcassonne  Vide grenier brocante

Coursan  vide grenier

Gruissan Vide grenier du COS

Montolieu  21ème salon du livre ancien et d'occasion

Narbonne  vide grenier de st estauche

Narbonne brocante & vide-greniers GEANT-CASINO

Narbonne  vide greniers

Ouveillan  grand vide greniers de printemps

Saint-André-de-Roquelongue vide grenier brocante bourse au jouet

Saint-Couat-d'Aude vide grenier

Foix Fete des plantes

Pamiers Marché et puces et à la brocantes

Saint-Girons Les puces du champ de mars

Lundi 21 Avril 2014

Carcassonne  Vide grenier brocante

Montolieu  21ème salon du livre ancien et d'occasion

Ornaisons Vide-grenier

Rieux-Minervois Bourse moto et vide grenier

Trèbes  Vide-grenier du handball

Dalouvide grenier de printemps



Samedi 26 Avril 2014

Coursan vide grenier

Limoux  salon Antiquités Brocante

Narbonne  vide grenier de st estauche

Narbonne  vide grenier et exposition des créations du club


Dimanche 27 Avril 2014

Aigues-Vives vide grenier brocante

Azille  vide-grenier

Carcassonne Vide grenier brocante

Coursan  vide grenier

Fabrezan  vide grenier association festival de musique charles cros

Fleury d'aude Printemps de Rando Fleury Clape

Laurac  Bourse aux vêtements enfants, puericulture, maternité,jouets

Limoux  salon Antiquités Brocante

Marcorignan Vide grenier de la MJC

Narbonne  vide grenier de st estauche

Narbonne Journée puces de couturieres et des loisirs créatifs

Narbonne  brocante & vide-greniers GEANT-CASINO

Pauligne  Vide Grenier

Pomas  vide-grenier Univers enfants

Preixan  vide grenier des ecoles rouffiac/preixan

Quillan  vide grenier du festival des fleurs

Sainte-Valière Vide Grenier de Sainte Valèrie

Sigean vide grenier brocante

Trèbes  Vide greniers

Villegailhenc  vide garage

Villemoustaussou  Vide Grenier "les amis de la course"

La Bastide-du-Salat Vide grenier

Pamiers  Marché et puces et à la brocantes 

Tourtrol  Vide greniers de tourtrol 


 What's On



HOLIDAY ON ICE 21 to 23 March Zenith Toulouse

METRONOMY 25 April Zenith Toulouse

JELLO BIAFRA & THE GSM 29 April Bikini Toulouse

ARTISTES A SUIVRE 29 May to June 6, Haute Vallee

NINE INCH NAILS 1 June Zenith Toulouse


SEASICK STEVE,  UB 40 8 July Argeles sur mer

KEZIAH JONES, PHOENIX,  LILY ALLEN 9 July Argeles sur mer 


EELS 11th July Bikini Toulouse

ELTON JOHN 15 July Carcassonne Festival

LANA DEL REY 17 July Carcassonne Festival

JOE SATRIANI + CHICAGO 19 July Carcassonne Festival

FRANZ FERDINAND 20 July Carcassonne Festival

MASSIVE ATTACK 24 July Carcassonne Festival

THE JACKSONS 25 July Carcassonne Festival

VANESSA PARADIS 28 July Carcassonne Festival

JAMES BLUNT 30 July Carcassonne Festival


 INVIT vernissage 2014













 dejapoo  ouutofdate
  16414barre on 7



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