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Maybe all these holidays in May are really designed to get you back into the habit of mowing the lawn, a bit of warmth and rain and the threadbare pelouse turns back into shaggy green astrotrump.


Did you watch the Eurovision song contest? Was it me or did the Swedish production have the same attitude to the programme as the British sense of humour focused by Sir Wogan.  And then there was the scoring …. much less blabla and easier to watch.  And the Russian favourites beaten by the Down Under lot. 



Then there was the phone vote, I am sure there are international adjudicators overseeing all of this, aren’t there?  But for Ukraine to bomb though the ranks to topple everyone and Poland slipping up the field it looked like the voting was put together by Nato.  Having tuned in for the last 45 minutes or so I found it jolly amusing.  I am not sure the Ukrainians will be able to pull something comparable off, but who knows.


So the BBC are planning on removing various websites and or substantially thinning content. I have a lot of cookery books, and seldom use them to look up a recipe, instead I search for a recipe and invariably end up on the BBC site.  Sometimes I even have to use ones from BBC Good Food website, but they are wasteful of ink and paper when you print them out, unless you get into a good amount of cut and paste.


I think the celebrity chefs who have been propelled into the super-rich bracket should pay a % of their revenue to the BBC for the assistance and if the same were done by comedians there should be enough to at least fund these websites, if not the license fee.  If you want to sign a petition to show your solidarity it’s here


Best to shop for a siege as there are plenty of strikes planned in France, these are in solidarity with the labour reforms which have been pushed through.






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Lost in France




A list too far or not far enough, who can tell?

For Leaving                                                                         Against Leaving

Boris Johnson                                                                    David Cameron

Nigel Lawson                                                                     George Osbourne

Michael Howard                                                               Sadiq Khan

Michael Gove                                                                    World War 2 veterans

Donald Trump                                                                   Barack Obama

Ian Duncan-Smith                                                            Jeremy Hunt

Zac Goldsmith                                                                   Nicky Morgan

Nigel Farage                                                                       Teresa May

Ian Botham                                                                         Richard Branson                     

Rupert Murdoch                                                              Jeremy Clarkson

Michael Caine                                                                    Eddie Izzard

Marine Le Pen                                                                   President Hollande



In the middle of compiling this tiny list I received an unsolicited phone call from a plumber.  I said my French was poor so could he speak slowly.  He told me he had sent me a brochure, had I received it.  No.  Did I need a plumber?  No.  Thank you.  And I put the phone down.  He then called me back to berate me for being in France and not speaking French!  And then, unbelievably, continued to ask me, did I need some windows, no and I said I don’t need any roofs, doors, walls, gardens, etc. etc.  Undaunted after that list he managed to inject something I had omitted … did I need insulation?  I burst out laughing and although he said it wasn’t a joke, I think he eventually got it.  But who said the French aren’t entrepreneurs?  









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When is a guarantee not a guarantee?




Members of the BHS Pension Scheme must be wondering that after news broke that the scheme, into which both they and their employer diligently contributed into, is £571 million in deficit. Questions are being asked as to how it ended up in this situation, given that the Trustees of the scheme were supposed to operate within quite strict guidelines, within a regulatory regime that doesn’t usually miss much. It is at this point that a short history lesson is perhaps needed.


The more mature reader will no doubt remember the Robert Maxwell Affair. The former owner of Mirror Group Newspapers (under rules that were allowed at that time) regularly dipped into the wonderfully overfunded Mirror Pension Scheme to prop up his ailing business, to the tune of around £500 million. When this didn’t work, he (allegedly) took a swallow dive off the back of his boat, leaving others to clear up the mess he’d created.


Much hand-wringing in the corridors of power resulted in more stringent rules being put in place to avoid a repetition and to which pension scheme trustees would henceforth have to abide by. Bear in mind, that the employer was generally the trustee of its own scheme, being told to conform to new rules limiting what they could and couldn’t do was a challenge; in the end the regulator focused on policing the funding position of schemes….no more than 110% overfunded and no less than 90% underfunded. This led to overfunded schemes using imaginative ways to reduce its funding position such as providing contribution holidays to its members or giving discretionary increases to retiring members’ benefits for example. Another bright idea was the introduction of reporting requirements that insisted on pension fund deficits being carried through to the company balance sheet – that’ll stop those pesky company executives from massaging their company’s financial position. 


Fast forward a few years to the start of the millennium when three years of turmoil in equity markets had a disastrous impact on those funding positions…whoops! This resulted in the creation of the Pension Protection Fund (PPF), a funding mechanism put in place to safeguard the benefits of pension scheme members in the event of company failure. The government of the day decreed that PPF should be funded by the family of pension schemes themselves…..anyone spot the flaw in this? At some indefinable future date, it will fail because the ratio of fully funded schemes will reduce, whilst the number of failing companies increases.  Interestingly, one of my colleagues in Spain has analyzed the funding position of the PPF, the results of which are on the Spectrum IFA Group’s website (1).To the end of January 2016, there are 5,945 member schemes in the PPF, 4,923 of which are in deficit, and only 1,022 in surplus. The average funding position across all companies is 80% (remember the ‘no less than 90% underfunded’ rule?); the deficit position of the PPF is £304.9 billion.



Perhaps, this is the real reason why Pensions Flexibility was introduced? Encourage pension policyholders including members of final salary pension schemes (also known as Defined Benefit or DB Schemes) “to take control of their own retirements”, or buy a Lamborghini if you prefer! The lure of that invitation has not been lost on the Great British pension public, which has resulted in meaningful conversations being had between them and their IFA’s. In some cases, it really is beneficial to take the transfer value offered and put it into a personal pension arrangement, but I stress this does depend on individual circumstances.



If you are a member of a defined benefit pension scheme and would like us to carry out an analysis to determine how valuable it is to you and your circumstances, ring for an appointment or take advantage of our Friday Morning Drop-in Clinic, here at our office in Limoux. And don’t forget, there is no charge for these meetings.  There is also no charge for the gathering of information from your pension scheme administrator, after which we will put you in a much more-enlightened position as to your benefits.


The Spectrum IFA Group and Currencies Direct are staging the latest in our immensely popular Tour de Finance seminars in Pezenas on Tuesday 7th June. If you would like to attend, please contact me to be registered when I’ll also send out details of the event.

See you soon.



Derek Winsland

Chartered Financial Planner

Mobile: 0771 71 95 52






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 paper stage


Bridge Problem.

You are in six spades and they lead the King of clubs. Can you ensure the contract?


 9 8 7 6 5
7 6 5
K Q 3
10 3

Your hand

A K Q J 10
A Q 2
A 10 6 4


You have ten top tricks and can ruff a club for eleven. The diamonds might break too but here is the best line. Win the lead and draw trumps. Cross to Dummy with a diamond and ruff the last club. Now play a top diamond from Dummy and finesse the ten in hand if your right hand opponent follows. If it loses to your left, the defence is now endplayed to lead into the heart tenace or to give a ruff and discard. If your right-hand-opponent shows out on the third round, win the Ace of diamonds and play the ten, throwing a heart from Dummy. Your left-hand-opponent is again endplayed for the contract

meteo ciel3

Tech Talk

Windows 10’s free upgrade period is ending.


Microsoft winds down the free upgrade period of Windows 10


When it launched last year, Microsoft announced that Windows 10 would be free to anyone with Windows 7 and 8 already on their systems. The reason behind the move was pretty easy to guess, to get as many people to use Windows 10 as possible, and to make up for the terrible mess of Windows 8.


To that end, Microsoft has been pretty aggressive in its attempting to get people to upgrade to Windows 10, it regularly pushing out reminders in the form of Popups on the screen.

Microsoft has always claimed this is a temporary free offer, but has been vague about just how temporary they mean. Now they’ve offered some clarity, announcing that Windows 10 will cease to be free from 29th July.


Microsoft revealed the price. After 29th July, Windows 10 will cost around £80 pounds or approximately €100, we will have to wait and see if there are any discounts or offers on the high street or online.


So if you’ve been putting of the upgrade to Windows 10 now is the time to make the decision, upgrade for free or stay with what you have.



I would advise anyone with Windows 8 or 8.1 to upgrade, as this version of Windows it not the best and I strongly suspect that support for Apps will end and that Apps will only be available to Windows 10 users.

If you have Windows 7 the decision is a little more difficult, Windows 7 is still very good and very stable. You cannot get apps or some of the new Microsoft software like the Edge browser but all other software still works. Also if your computer is a few years old staying with what you know and what is currently working might be the best option.

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.

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A Guide to Mystical France  

Mystical Sites in the Aude and Ariège

Nick Inman


While I was writing my book, A Guide to Mystical France, I found the southwest to be particularly rich in sites to mention. Here is a selection of my favourite places to visit in the departments of Aude and Ariège  – and just beyond their borders.












 fetes aude autumn





















 readers write








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

Jeudi 19 Mai


Argeliers  Exposition ventes de brocantes


Samedi 21 Mai


Argeliers  Exposition ventes de brocantes

Coursan  Vide grenier

Narbonne Bourse aux livres du Rotary Club

Narbonne Vide grenier, exposition des créations du club Lou Grangeot

Névian Vide grenier Nocturne La Farandole

Villegailhenc Vide grenier champêtre avec animations

Foix Vide grenier brocante organisé par l’usf rugby

Lavelanet Vide grenier foire à tout

Pamiers Vide grenier organisé par Country Dancers de Pamier

Pamiers Marché de printemps des écoles Gabriel Fauré et des Canonges

Saverdun Vide grenier marché aux puces, moto

Tarascon-sur-Ariège Vide grenier organisé par l’amicale des joueurs ust xv

Varilhes  Vide grenier, brocante

Varilhes Bourse à l’auto et moto

Varilhes Foire à tout vide grenier nocturne


Dimanche 22 Mai


Alairac Vide grenier de l’école

Argeliers Vide grenier

Argeliers  Exposition ventes de brocantes

Badens Vide grenier

Bizanet Vide grenier de l’école

Carcassonne Vide grenier, brocante

Cazalrenoux Vide grenier

Cépie Vide grenier de printemps

Conques-sur-Orbiel Vide grenier les P’tits Conquois

Couiza Vide dressing, bourse aux jouets et puériculture

Coursan Vide grenier

Cuxac-d’Aude Hyper vide grenier

Fanjeaux Vide grenier de l’école

Fendeille Vide grenier

Fleury d’aude Vide grenier des sapeurs pompiers

Ginestas Méga vide grenier

Gruissan Vide grenier des Mirguettes

Homps Vide grenier de l’école

Lagrasse Brocante vide grenier

Lauraguel Vide grenier

Le Somail Vide grenier brocante du printemps

Leuc Vide grenier

Limoux Vide grenier du Tennis Club

Marcorignan Vide grenier

Monze Vide grenier

Moussan Vide dressing des Perniflars

Narbonne Vide grenier de printemps

Narbonne Bourse aux livres du Rotary Club

Palaja Vide grenier du Petanque Club

Pennautier Vide grenier de Pennautier en Fête

Pezens Vide grenier

Portel-des-Corbières Vide grenier – Brocante et exposition de Playmobil

Roquefort-des- Corbières Vide grenier école

Roubia Vide grenier

Saint-Marcel sur Aude Vide grenier

Souilhanels 5éme Vide grenier

Trèbes Vide grenier

Villalier Vide grenier – Marché aux Fleurs 

Villemoustaussou Vide grenier du Trapel Football Club

Villeneuve-la-Comptal Vide grenier

Villeneuve-lès-Montréal Vide grenier

Villeneuve-Minervois Vide grenier organisé par les Ballerines de Villeneuve

Arnave Vide grenier de printemps

Arvigna Vide poussette

Ax-les-Thermes Vide grenier de l’Association des parents d’élèves d’Ax

Campagne-sur-Arize Vide grenier

Esplas de Serou Vide grenier et troc aux plantes – 2ème édition

Lordat Vide grenier

Loubières Vide grenier

Mercus-Garrabet Vide grenier

Montgailhard Vide dressing

Pamiers Vide grenier, brocante

Rieux-de-Pelleport Vide grenier

Saint-Jean-du-Falga Vide grenier, foire

Saint-Pierre-de-Rivière Vide poussette et vide ta chambre

Saint-Quentin-la-Tour Vide grenier

Vals Vide grenier, marché gourmand, artisanat

Varilhes Vide grenier, brocante

Verniolle Vide cabanon

Villeneuve Vide grenier

Jeudi 26 Mai

Argeliers  Exposition ventes de brocantes


Samedi 28 Mai

Argeliers  Exposition ventes de brocantes

Bram Vide grenier

Carcassonne Vide grenier école des castors

Coursan Vide grenier

Limoux Vide grenier

Sainte-Camelle Vide grenier, Foire à tout

Cadarcet Vide grenier

Saverdun Vide grenier, marché aux puces, moto

Varilhes Vide grenier, brocante

Varilhes Bourse à l’auto et moto

Varilhes Foire à tout vide grenier nocturne

Dimanche 29 Mai

Argeliers  Exposition ventes de brocantes

Argeliers Vide grenier du bsm xv

Carcassonne Vide grenier brocante

Coursan Vide grenier

Espéraza Vide grenier

Ferran Vide grenier

Laurabuc Vide grenier

Limoux Vide grenier du handball club

Mas-Cabardès Foire

Narbonne vide grenier de l’association MSN

Pépieux vide grenier

Sainte-Eulalie Vide grenier du cyclo club

Saissac Vide grenier

Sigean Vide grenier du Ping Pong

Foix Vide grenier d’Ingénieuse Afrique

Pamiers Vide grenier, brocante

Saint-Jean-de-Verges Vide grenier soutien Sud Maroc

Saverdun Bourse de printemps

Teilhet Les Fêtes Aromatiques de Teilhet

Varilhes Vide grenier organisé par l’ARPEL




 AletQueen  273333


 ABBA Soiree



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What's On

THE WHO 14 June Zenith Toulouse

NEIL YOUNG 21 June Zenith Toulouse


ELTON JOHN 8 July Argeles


PHARRELL WILLIAMS 16 July Carcassonne Festival

MUSE 17 July Arenes de Nimes

DAVID GILMOUR 20 & 21 July Arenes de Nimes

MARIANNE FAITHFULL 29 July Carcassonne Festival

SCORPIONS 31 July Carcassonne Festival

PETER DOHERTY 18 nov Bikini Toulouse

CIRQUE DU SOLEIL 22 to 26 Nov Zenith Toulouse


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