When to eat oysters


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Is it best to eat oysters when there is an ‘R’ in the month?oysters

Well if the oysters are harvested locally then most people will tell you that the “r-month rule” doesn’t matter anymore. Nowadays people say its fine to eat raw oysters in a month that doesn’t have an “r” in it — like August — because it’s safe. This is true but raw oysters aren’t meant to be eaten in the summer and they are better in the winter.

“I basically inadvertently follow the r-month rule because they never taste good in the summer,” says Rowan Jacobsen, author of The Geography of Oysters and the oyster website called, oysterguide.com. Another good site which is worth a look is   http://www.oysters.us/france-main.html   I think it is perfectly fine to eat oysters any time of year, but when temperatures are very high in the summer maybe its best to back off. There was another reason for the r-month rule: It allowed the oysters time to reproduce since oysters spawn in the summertime. However most oyster beds are not natural, baby oysters are “made” in hatcheries, so natural reproduction is not a real issue any more . But still, oysters grown in cold water taste better so try to  follow the rule. (Note: The r-month rule is only important with raw oysters. Grilled or fried, oysters are about the same year-round.) Other pages you might like to view are http://poitoucharentesinphotos.wordpress.com/2012/01/22/les-huitres/

Escape to the continent; Poitou-Charentes


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I do not usually watch these programmes where you escape to France, Australia, the countryside or wherever but last night it was Poitou-Charentes, presented by Nicki Chapman.p01wrc9d The couple had a budget of between £300,000 and £500,000 to spend and guess what the presenters found them three stunning places and there were lots of ohs and ahs and wows and wow factors but they did not buy.  I suspect it would not be difficult to find somewhere quite nice for half a million pounds in Poitou-Charentes, maybe along the coast it gets a bit more expensive or in Poitiers but in most places you would get something pretty fantastic for that money. Evidently they did buy somewhere a few months later near Niort. The programme is at  Escape to the Continent

Where are the Plan d’Eau in Poitou-Charentes ?


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Many years ago (over 20 ) when we first came to this region of France and our children were quite young we were always looking for a good local lake or river for bathing in the summer. In those days we did not have the internet and so we collected leaflets from the tourist info places and kept our eyes peeled whilst driving about. Below is St Martin L’Ars on a grey day in August.Pland'Eau0001

We found a few and probably in those days the one at Chateau Garnier was our favourite. It is now just a fishing lake and the swimming is no longer an option. So now the Plan d’Eau at St Macoux is favourite.

What I want to do is compile a list of suitable places so that next summer on this site there will be and extensive list of all the venues where you can take your children/grandchildren on a hot summers day

Pland'Eau0003So now its over to you, please let me know where all these places are, along with what facilities they have, ie restaurant, pedalos, fishing, water slide, Teepees, Climbing walls,and such like.


I have quite an extensive list from personal experience and I have a lot more by looking up stuff on the internet but I would like my list to be complete and personal. There is a great one at St Vallier near Brossac which we visited many times because my parents in law had a house there for some time in the 1990’s.


So do let me know what you think about the venues in your area.  Thank you.Pland'Eau0002


Planete des Crocodiles, Vienne, France


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I have been to this attraction twice  and enjoyed it both times. Crocodile0001 The inmates are not that lively but quite fascinating. Some of them are quite large and look quite mean, but possibly underneath they are OK , however you would not want to test them out.Crocodile0002

It’s not entirely crocs, alligators and caimans,  there are also a few tortoises and terrapins and a couple of chameleons which I found quite fascinating.Crocodile0006






Here is a little slide show of the Chameleons, I took loads of photos but have selected just a few.

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This is a good place to take the children or grandchildren as it is all undercover so it is good for a wet day, not many places have that advantage in Poitou-Charentes. They use the hot water from the nearby nuclear power station to keep it warm and crocodile friendly.

Crocodile00020This is the stuff of science fiction movies…. something goes wrong with the power station and radiation leaks into the crocodile enclosure so they mutate and giant crocs are the result. The smash their way out of their enclosures and terrify the whole of the Vienne, they colonise the Vienne river and progress through France. Only the eventual intervention of the Foreign Legion brings them under control but not before they have invaded Paris and eaten Francoise Hollande.    ??? Spielberg, what do you think?

The information labels are good and there are little places where the children can do some drawings and there are lots of questions and stuff to keep them interested. also the shop…. the dreaded shop, the bane of all parents is not too obtrusive. It is there but you do not have to walk through it as is the case at the Valley de Singe.

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One of their featured exhibits are the albino crocs, they have some small ones which have recently been bred but there is also quite a large one, He/she is white with pink eyes but due to algae growing on its skin, it is sort of greenish white. Crocodile0007

They make it look quite good with mock ups of jungle scenes , crashed airplanes, dugout canoes and such like, it is as good as they can make it.

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We went round twice and it took about two hours, we also had a cup of tea and a cake and it was all quite good but is definitely a half day trip and you have to work at it a bit to get value for money.

Their web site is http://www.planete-crocodiles.com/

Route for Rallye International de Charente 2014



The route has been published, its Chalais and Aubeterre, direction.415a_itineraire2014matin


First to Barbezieur415b_itineraire2014matindeuxiemepartie

Then across to Chalais and Aubeterre.416a_itineraire2014apres-midi

Now back up to Angouleme, on a bit of a loup,416b_itineraire2014apres-midideuxiemepartie


Enjoy it all oy you participating and watching.

Rallye International de Charente 2014; Route


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Other British cars39The route is not published until very close to the date, why? I do not know.

So far this is what I know.

Saturday, September 20
Start Chais Magelis, from 8.00 to 10 am
Finish Champ de Mars Esplanade, from 4.45 to 6 pm

When I find the route I will put it on this blog. Unfortunately I will not be able to watch all those beautifull cars in the wonderful Charente countryside this year but photos from 2013 and 2012 are on this blog so you can see what is in store. This is the 75th year of the Circuit de Remparts event in Angouleme so I expect it will be even better than usual. Lets hope the weather is good.79_comporemparts201415

Shrews, mice and voles in Poitou-Charentes.


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Over the summer we had visitors as I know so many of you will have done and they need entertaining!

One of our visitors was my 6-year-old grandson and one of the things I did to ‘entertain’ him was to set out a small mammal trap in various locations in the garden. It was quite successful and we caught quite a lot of small mammals. This is what the trap looks like.Field mouse0002

And this is a Field mouse, one of many which we caught.Field mouse0003

These are humane traps, they do not kill what they catch. The scientific version is called a Longworth trap and you can buy them for about £50 a go and they are made of metal and work very well. You can also get plastic versions at about a third of the cost but these have the disadvantage that the mice will try to gnaw their way out and eventually after quite a while the trap becomes gnawed into an unusable state.

You can also buy what are called humane traps which are based on the same principle as the Longworth traps, ie the animal squeezes in but then cannot get back. These traps are on sale in the same places as ordinary mouse traps are for sale and they are for squeamish people who want to get rid of mice but without any blood or visible damage to the mouse. I say visible because if you catch a mouse in your house and then ‘kindly’ release it some distance away in the countryside, there is a good chance it will not survive and also a possibility that its nest of small baby mice will also perish, but at least no blood and gore…. so that’s fine.

One word of warning…… you might catch shrews and these little chaps are insectivores. It is said that they eat their own body weight in insects every day. Now if you set up a trap in the early evening and then check it the following morning and if a shrew got caught fairly soon after you set up the trap then it could have been in the trap for say 12 hours and this would be long enough for it to die. So we never left our traps set up for long periods of time. Also you need to put some bedding in the trap like straw or dried grass and some food, we put in wheatabix. I also put a bit of old wood on top of the trap so it was a bit darker inside and might make it less intimidating to a shy little creature.Field mouse0001

We did catch shrews, they were probably the common shrew (Sorex araneus) or Eurasian shrew.  There are several different species of shrew so you need careful identification to be certain. On one occasion we caught 3 in one go.

Mostly we caught the yellow-necked mouse (Apodemus flavicollis), also called yellow-necked field mouse. These are different from House mice in several ways. They have big black eyes, they have larger ears and they are a golden brown colour not a grey brown like the House mouse. There is also a wood mouse but they are slightly smaller and do not have the golden-yellow colour around the neck which you can vaguely see in my photos. Field mouse0004

We did not catch any voles this summer, but I have caught one several years ago. Voles have a short tail and a blunt nose, they are quite cute.

We set the trap up lots of times and in lots of places, it was a good thing to do and kept my grandson busy for some of the time, also the grown ups were quite interested as well. Finally my Grandson called them screws not shrews, that was fine by me.

To see other photos I have taken click Alamy Photos



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We took the family up to the Futuroscope back in August.Futuroscope_0001 I have not been there for around 15 years or more. There is a lot which is still the same and some additions. Also we noticed that the big ‘golf ball’ which was at the centre of one of the buildings has gone. This was almost the main iconic building of the futuroscope and was featured in all the advertising material. Continue reading

Testing; testing

This is just a quick post to see if things are working again. My computer threw a wobbly and I have not been able to use it for some time, but now I have it back so I am attempting to post a blog with a photo just to see if it works.Field mouse_0002


If you would like to see lots of other photos I have taken from all over the world just click,   http://www.alamy.com/Search/ImageResults.aspx?xstx=0&pseudoid=%7bD8A75B6F-8408-47AC-8DA0-FF3EBA210E84%7d&name=Alan%2bWaterman&st=11


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