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It’s looking like you should cancel everything for next Wednesday, certainly train travel and it doesn’t look like it will end there. Railway workers think they should be paid more, that there should be more staff and better working conditions. Then there are a load of other unions who are displeased with the planned changes to the employment law, so they have organised the same day to display their displeasure and make everyone’s life a misery.


It appears Aude wine makers are up in arms about a Chilean wine being a sponsor and official wine on TDF 2016.  As humorous as the South American wine in question is, Cono Sur’s Bicicleta (which they advertise as “no family trees, no dusty bottles, just fine wine?)  it was historically Sieur D’Arques who produced under 5 different cepage, Red Bicyclette wines which was marketed by Gallo in the US.  Perhaps the whole brand disappeared when it was found that the Pinot Noir version, which was supposed to contain 85% Pinot was in fact a mix of Merlot and Syrah.  Would Aude wine makers have matched the deal that the Chileans have paid?   In my experience - no, speculate to accumulate is not within their remit.


I was reading about Mr Trump and his shenanigans with Native Americas - his objection being they don’t pay tax on their casinos and apparently he does. I think one of the disputes is with the Mohawk tribe, and strangely enough if he stood his hair up he would surely end up with an impressive Mohawk haircut, and I would say he would have been an easy target for scalping a couple of hundred years ago.





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Lost in France


A little story about doing business in France.  This isn’t me but a friend of mine who was ran a successful agency for photographers in London.  She was doing quite well there and thought it was a good idea to expand and open a branch in Paris. You know that beautiful city made even more romantic and beautiful by the photography of people like Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Doisneau.  What an exciting opportunity she thought to be based there!  She employed several people to run the office, visited and called periodically, but it didn’t run quite as successfully as the London office.  This could have been for many reasons but eventually the people she had employed left to set up in competition with her and took with them some of her clients.

As you can imagine she wasn’t very happy and took legal advice to see if there was anything she could do and it turned out there was very little. She lost her business and closed her office while her former employees quite happily set up down the road.

What I don’t understand and perhaps someone out there might be able to enlighten me, as I said she lost her clients and closed her business but she was still liable to pay the former employees who chose to leave her company.  Is this what is meant by a ‘post termination non-competitive covenant’ and if there is or isn’t one in place she basically has to pay her employees for closing her business down?









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Forum:      Local Association No : W112000594








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Pensions Back on the Government’s Agenda Again!


The date that is etched in everyone’s mind at the moment is 23rd June, when the referendum on the UK’s

membership of the EU takes place.



However, if you still have pension benefits in the UK to claim, there is another date that you should be focused

on - 16th March - the date of the UK Budget.


Last summer, the government launched a consultation on pension tax relief and this is what the Chancellor said ……….


With increased longevity and the changing nature of pension provision, the government needs to make sure that

the system incentivises more people to take responsibility for their pension saving so that they are able to

meet their aspirations in retirement.


Incentivising people to save for retirement? Well that’s not new. The current system of the tax-free Pension

Commencement Lump Sum (PCLS) and tax-relief on pension contributions is already a good incentive, even though

the latter has been capped and steadily reduced since 2006. So what more does the government think should be done?


The chancellor goes on to say ……..


That is why the government is today publishing a consultation on pensions tax relief. If people are to take

responsibility for their retirement, it is important that the support on offer from the government is simple and

transparent, and that complexity does not undermine the incentive for individuals to save.


Now “simple” and “transparent” are not words that appear in my dictionary on the UK pension system. On the

other hand, “complexity” does, particularly as concerns the new State pension system coming into effect in April,

something that I will cover in another article.


The most radical idea that the chancellor floated was the introduction of the Pension ISA, where all pension

contributions would be paid on post-taxed income, but thereafter, no tax would be payable – either on the

investments in the pension fund or on the pensions in payment. Definitely attractive to a cash-strapped chancellor

who wants to at least ‘balance the books’ during the remainder of this government’s term of office, but hugely

short-sighted for future generations, when demographic pressure on public spending and the need for tax revenues

is likely to be more severe.


The system would also be hugely complex as, in effect, two separate pension pots would have to be kept – the

old system ‘post-tax pot’ and the new system ‘pre-tax pot’. Maybe the government would introduce some

transitional arrangements to convert ‘post-tax pots’ into ‘pre-tax pots’ and if so, for sure there will be some losers.

Costs for administering the new arrangements would increase and for the dwindling number of remaining

defined benefit pension schemes, this could lead to these ending up in the ‘pensions graveyard’ – who will pay the

levies to the Pension Protection Fund then?


An alternative idea proposed is for pension contributions to be paid out of post-taxed income and for a flat-rate of

tax relief to be paid by the government into the pension pot or into the defined benefit scheme. If the tax-relief is

limited to the basic rate of 25%, higher tax rate payers will lose out – some incentive!


The government’s current thinking on this to incentivise people is - ‘if you pay into your pension, the government

will top it up’. This is spin, the tax-relief at source already exists for occupational pension schemes and a delay

in getting the government’s so-called ‘top up’ into the pension scheme would be detrimental for the pension member.



The effect on the employer of defined benefit pension schemes should also not be underestimated, where the

employer is legally obliged to ensure that the pension assets can meet the liabilities. Any delay on getting the tax-relief

due into the defined benefit scheme is in effect, an interest-free loan to the government. My pensions career started

more than 40 years ago and I remember well how long we had to wait for National Insurance rebates to be

paid by the government into occupational pension schemes. Another nail in the coffin, on route to the pensions




I save the ‘best’ to last – the abolition of the tax-free PCLS. Of course, I am being cynical because there is nothing

good that could come out of taxing the beloved PCLS and definitely not the best way of incentivising people to save

more for retirement.  Receiving a tax-free cash sum has been at the heart of the UK pension system for decades.

To take this away now, when people have saved for years and planned for retirement on the basis that they would

receive this tax-free PCLS is quite simply wrong.



Of course, the government could just tinker with the existing system more by reducing the maximum amount that

people can pay into tax-relieved pension funds and perhaps also by no longer allowing employers tax-relief on

National Insurance contributions. The latter would hurt employers, particularly with the abolition of contracting-out of

the State Second Pension from April, which anyway results in increased National Insurance Contributions

(another nail in the coffin?).


The first organised UK pension scheme can be traced back to the 1670s, when the Royal Navy put in place

provision for its officers. Other public sector pensions followed over the centuries, but it was in the 1950s and

1960s that corporate pensions became a prominent part of the remuneration package. In the good old days

of easily understandable pension schemes, we were encouraged to pay Additional Voluntary Contributions - after

all you got tax-relief and so were incentivised to save more for retirement. When I started work, the maximum amount

that we could contribute was simply limited to 15% of earnings – regardless of whether you were a basic rate or

higher rate taxpayer.

Do you trust future politicians not to change the UK pension rules again?


If you would like to have a confidential discussion about your pension or any other aspect of your personal financial

situation, you can either contact us by telephone on 04 68 31 14 10 or by  e-mail at

Alternatively, drop-by our Friday morning clinic at our office at 2 Place du Général Leclerc, 11300 Limoux,

for an initial discussion.


The Spectrum IFA Group advisers do not charge any fees directly to clients for their time or for advice given, as

can be seen from our Client Charter at


Daphne Foulkes

SIRET 522 658 194 00017

Numéro d’immatriculation ORIAS 10 056 800



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L’Aude au Nat’s wildlife diary.



As a particularly mild winter in our area comes to an end, it’s possible to see some beautiful plant species beginning to show themselves at their finest. So, if you are walking on the open moorland your eyes may be caught by the Giant Orchid (Barlia robertiana), not only one of our largest but also amongst the earliest of the orchids. However, if you prefer the coolness of less well exposed land, or climb a little in the hills, you will have more chance to find the beautiful  Dog’s-tooth Violet(Erythroniumdens-canis),  named from the form of the bulb.

This period is also when amphibians wake from their winter torpor and start to think about mating. So, if you keep an eye out, you can see in many wet areas male Palmate Newts (Lissotriton helveticus) displaying in front of the females or, more difficult to spot, the eggs of the Common Parsley Frog (Pelodytes punctatus) wrapped in cords around vegetation.


Neither are the sounds of wildlife still at rest. As soon as the sun begins to warm the land and days lengthen, all the common over-wintering birds (Robins, Chaffinches, Green finches, at least 6 species of Tits, Blackbirds, Nuthatches, Wrens……) start serenading. Harder to see but more impressive for those who have a bit of luck and patience, now is the time to keep a watch on the skies for the display flights of some of our resident raptors, the tremendous swoops of Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos), or the sky-dances of Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis), showing us that the great springtime season is just around the corner


Loïc Brepson, wildlife guide;    





meteo ciel3


Tech Talk


Fix a slow running iPad or iPhone


I am often asked how to fix an iPad or iPhone that is running very slowly, there are two ways.


  1.    As you use your iPad or iPhone you open apps, you then press the home button and choose another app. However very soon you can end up will app your apps running all at once, you can only see one at a time but the device is still trying to run them all.


Close apps once a day.



Press the home button twice quickly (tap, tap) a small view of all the apps appears, swipe each one to the top of the screen and it will disappear. Do this to all the apps until you can see the home screen then press the home button once.


No matter how many time I say this most of the time it’s completely ignored and people go back to running all the apps at once. This make it slow and uses the battery at a MUCH faster rate, get into the habit of closing apps when you are finished with them.


2.Memory Refresh:

If your iPad or iPhone is still running slowly or you are getting apps the crash regularly then try a memory refresh.


Unlocked the device so that you are on the home screen.



Next, press and hold the power button for a few seconds until you get the Slide to Power Off screen.


You’d normally use this to switch your phone off, so you can turn it back on and reboot it. However, this time, don’t touch the slide and, instead take your finger off the power button.

Now, press and hold the Home button and keep it depressed (don’t touch the screen or any other button). After around 6 seconds, your phone will jump back to the home screen.

It may feel as though not much has happened, but your phone or tablet will have refreshed its memory and any broken apps or slowdowns should be fixed.



Note, if when you pressed the home button down you just got the Siri prompt, this is because your device was locked when you held down the power button. Unlock your device and repeat these instructions and you’ll be able to get it working.



Android devices – Phones and Tablets also have a way to close apps when you are finished with them. Some devices you hold the home button while others have a dedicated app button (two squares overlapping) Again close apps at least once a day to keep your device running quickly and using less battery.


Windows phone’s and Tablets - pressing and holding the Back ß (arrow symbol) button on your Windows device, which shows you the apps you've used most recently, press the X to close the app.


It much easier to see the programs (apps) that are running on your computer, you would not dream of running all the programs at once, imagine how slow the computer would be if you clicked EVERY icon and never pressed the red X (or red dot on a Mac). Its very easy when you get used to it, you open and app, use the app then close the app before using another one, or at least use a few and then close them before you turn off.


NOTE: iPad and other Tablets – These devise are very different from a computer they are designed to live in STANDBY and not to be turned off. I find many people Turn off their tablet each time they have finished with it, or every night. This process of turning off and on seems to prematurely age tablets and seems to make them run very slowly and often DIE at a very young age. I would advise you only Turn off if you are not going to use the tablet for 3 days or more.



  • Standby it when you press the power button once briefly and the screen goes dark. (Recommended)
  • Turning off is when you hold the power button for 3 seconds and then swipe to turn off.

If you need help or have any questions about your computer please give me a call or send me an email for advice. or Telephone 05 61 60 84 23.

Bruce Taylor.


A Guide to Mystical France – secrets, mysteries, sacred sites’ by Nick Inman is a simply marvellous book for the visitor and the inhabitant alike.  Informative, well laid out and beautifully illustrated with sharp colourful photos.  Nick uncovers the mysteries, hidden statues, strange carvings, haunting stories and true histories of France.  Rather than following the usual tourist route to more familiar towns and villages, through his eyes you are shown the country from a different perspective, through art both in caves and gothic ruins and through legends revealed in ancient stones and the spiritual history of places. 

It is the kind of book you can use for a magical mystical tour on days out with friends and family or just take a journey off the beaten track to visit sacred sites and monuments rarely seen.  From UFOs and the Da Vinci Code to secret statues and devilish bridges, heathens and Christians, Nick provides you not only with enough background information to spur you on to visit but also backs it up the kind of practical information about accommodation, food and general preparation.




Bridge problem


You are in four spades and they lead the Queen of diamonds. How will you make ten tricks?



J 7 6

Q 2

A 7 5 4

1 0 8 5 4


Your Hand


A K Q 4 3 2

7 5 4

K 2

A 6




You have nine top tricks and need a tenth. This can come from ruffing a heart but you must take care not to play any rounds of trumps first as the defence can return trumps twice when on lead with the heart suit to deny you a ruff in Dummy. The correct play is a heart at trick two.



Lizzie Godfrey





As we head into March one really can start to think that (hopefully) there won't now be a cold spell to catch us out.  Definitely the time to carry on pruning roses, cutting back sub shrubs and perennials such as ceratostigma, perovskia, gaillardia etc and generally tidying up.  But, with spring just about here it is time to get on with any planting of trees, shrubs and hardy perennials - the earlier they are planted in spring the better they will be able to cope with the heat and drought of summer.  It is also a good time to divide perennials in the garden.

Lots of spring bulbs are already out in our gardens as are a number of spring flowering shrubs.  Coronilla glauca is a native to this part of the world, a shrub with scented yellow flowers that will tolerate sun or half shade, it flowers from mid February to early April.  Another well known yellow flowerer is the shrubby climber Jasminum primulinum or Primrose jasmine from China,  this is a a large, mounding, evergreen shrub that is excellent for screening. Its main flowering occurs in March and April, it can be grown as a free standing shrub or trained over a pergola or similar.  Less well known but well worth a place in our gardens is Sophora macrocarpa from Chile, again with yellow flowers from late February until April this is a suckering, evergreen shrub that grows to about 1m20 high.


At La Petite Pépinière de Caunes I am retiring from the general nursery side of the business.  That  will be taken on by Imogen Checketts and Kate Dumbleton who are creating a garden and nursery on a piece of uncultivated land next door to La Petite Pépinière.  They are already taking plant orders for 2016 and will be opening every Saturday from the 16th April onwards from 10 – 17h.  They can be contacted for more information at or

As a confirmed plantaholic I shall, of course, be continuing to experiment with new and unusual plants and will occasionally offer these for sale or exchange  via my mailing list and at events here.  I shall also be offering occasional gardening courses and be available for advice and consultation about planting schemes and garden development.  Our first gardening course for 2016 will be on Thursday 14th April and will be about growing and propagating culinary herbs in Languedoc gardens, please contact me for further details.  The garden here will continue to be open by appointment for individuals and always also with the possibility of guided visits for groups ( We shall still be holding our annual open weekend at La Petite Pépinière and garden the weekend of 4th and 5th June, more details about this will be circulated nearer the time.  

For plant and garden queries please don't hesitate to contact me: Gill Pound, 21, avenue de la Montagne Noire, 11160 Caunes-Minervois, phone 04 68 78 43 81 or email



 fetes aude autumn





















 readers write



Hi Steve

I’m certain that wariness of neighbours has nothing to do with the Occupation (is this your story or someone else’s?). It is more likely peasant mentality, a natural (?) mistrust of the outsider’s interest in your affairs. You have to win people over. I know because I have been taking pictures of people’s houses in our village and you have to be diplomatic.




Books Free to good home. Due to library downsize 200+ books available, 90% fiction includes 40 Readers Digest Condensed books (with 4 Titles per volume) which might be of interest to English language students as they are condensed and so in little easier language format.

Prepared to travel to do a handover if required. Contact Mike Burrowes on 0534010219 or 09130 Artigat  Ariege 









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 5 Mars


Alet-les-Bains Vide Grenier L’Association Jeunesse Alétoise

Coursan Vide grenier

Lézignan-Corbières Vide Grenier, brocante

Villelongue-d’Aude 4 vide maisons à Villelongue d’Aude

Saverdun Vide grenier

VarilhesVide grenier brocante

Varilhes Bourse à l’auto et moto

Dimanche 6 Mars


Capendu Vide dressing FC Alaric feminine

Carcassonne Vide grenier brocante

Coursan Vide grenier

Gruissan Vide grenier

Leucate Marché d’Opportunitcs

Leucate Vide grenier rugby leucate

Lézignan-Corbières Vide Grenier, brocante

Limoux Brocante la mensuelle

Narbonne Vide Grenier

Roubia Vide dressing

Salles-d’Aude Vide Grenier du Tennis de Table

Villelongue-d’Aude 4 vide maisons à Villelongue d’Aude

Mazères Vide Grenier mensuel

Pamiers Marché et puces et à la brocantes

Saint-Lizier Marché aux puces, de la cave au grenier

Tarascon-sur-Ariège Vide bibliotheque

VarilhesVide grenier brocante


Samedi 12 Mars


Coursan Vide grenier

Lézignan-Corbières Vide Grenier, brocante

VarilhesVide grenier brocante

Varilhes Bourse à l’auto et moto


Dimanche 13 Mars

Capendu Bourse aux jouets et puériculture

Carcassonne Vide grenier brocante

Caunes-Minervois Vide grenier

Coursan Vide grenier

Coursan Vide grenier du CIT

Gruissan Hyper vide grenier aux profits des animaux abandonnes

Lézignan-Corbières Vide Grenier, brocante

Montréal Vide grenier des ecoles de Montréal

Ornaisions Vide grenier Salle Polyvalente

Pennautier Vide dressing afdaim

Plavilla Vide Greniers et brocante

Thézan-des-Corbieres Antiquite brocante

Laroque-d’Olmes Vide grenier

Pamiers Marché et puces et à la brocantes

Saint-Ybars Vide grenier du village

VarilhesVide grenier brocante

Samedi 19 Mars

Coursan Vide grenier

Lézignan-Corbières Vide Grenier, brocante

VarilhesVide grenier brocante

Varilhes Bourse à l’auto et moto

Dimanche 20 Mars

Carcassonne Vide grenier brocante

Cazilhac Vide grenier

Coursan Vide grenier

Lézignan-Corbières Vide Grenier, brocante

Montlaur Vide grenier interieur exterieur

Montredon-des-Corbières Bourse de vêtements

Palaja Vide dressing

Portel-des-Corbières Vide dressing vide grenier

Saissac Vide bibliotheque (livres, revues, cd, vinyl, K7)

Pamiers Marché et puces et à la brocantes

Saverdun Vide grenier du printemps

VarilhesVide grenier brocante












 boris justlikethat


 Just like that, Boris can switch

In 1997, Boris Johnson said “Look, I’m rather pro-European, actually. I certainly want a European community where one can go and scoff croissants, drink delicious coffee, learn foreign languages and generally make love to foreign women.”


In another moment of deep wisdom in 2015, he told Germany’s Der Spiegel “We can’t leave Europe. We’re part of the European Continent. What is the English Channel? It’s a primeval river that got slightly too big … We’re always going to be a part of Europe psychologically.”

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UB40 12 April Casino Toulouse

NEIL YOUNG 21 June Zenith Toulouse

CIRQUE DU SOLEIL 22 to 26 Nov 


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