BBQ time is here again.


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Back in Poitou-Charentes in just a few days now and looking forward to some good BBQ food, but I might get my son to cook it as he is a professional chef and is used to the heat of the kitchen. I will supervise from the shade with a cold beer in hand.  langoustines1


These Langoustines look like a good choice to kick off with.

The East Anglian Field Study Centre


My old web site still exists. Recently I was providing an ecology course for some students in Norfolk and their teacher told me that she got all the students to have a look through my web site before they came on the course. centre%20drawing%20AThis confused me somewhat because the Field centre has been closed for over ten years. I assumed that the web site no longer existed as I do not pay to keep up the domain name and also do not pay anyone to host it.

The domain name is slightly different to what it used to be, it was or but now it is So what is ndo? anyway the site is still there and it is quite large and its what I used to do, so if you are interested have a look.

Click East Anglian Field study Centre and you can see it. The look is very old fashioned now, how web sites have changed in the 20 years since I made that one.


Poitou-Charentes wild flower of the month July 2014 Spreading Bellfower


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OK better late than never, but I’ve been very busy…..sorry.

I have chosen Spreading Bellflower (Campanula patula).  I like to pick a flower which you might well have noticed as you are driving about or walking. Not a flower which you might have to hunt for, ie a flower which  is going to announce its presence to you and this one fits that brief. Driving along you will see patches of this purple/blue flower in the hedgerows, it is not particularly fond of shady areas so you are most likely to see it in more open countryside.

Spreading Bellflower (Campanula patula) June/July

Spreading Bellflower (Campanula patula) June/July

For other flowers of the month click the link below, previously in July the flowes of the month has been Field Bindweed (Columbine arvensis)

To identify other flowers from this region click…


England Italy


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They say every cloud has a silver lining.silver lining1

Well the one in this photo does but it is hard to see where England 1 Italy 2 has a silver lining.

The boys will be home soon.


Updated on 25/06/2014  They are coming home today…… and lots of people will discuss what went wrong and then it will die down and in 4 years time we can do it all again, if we qualify.


La Cotinière; Isle d’Oléron


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 Poitou-Charentes has a great coast line with some wonderful destinations, but for those of us who live on the eastern side of the region it is a long haul over to the coast. Over the years the roads have improved and we no longer have to trail round St Jean d’Angely and there is a short stretch of motorway which enables you to avoid Tonnay Charente.  The use of the sat nav has arguably made the route more straightforward. Ours will save us 5 miles by cutting across from Sauze Vaussais to Aunlay, thus avoiding the aromas of Melle. However it is a wonder to me that in Chef Boutonne, a commune little bigger than a village, the sat nav makes takes a route through involving a seemingly endless series of right and left turns. Nevertheless with all the improvements in navigation and roads we can now get to our nearest bit of coast in about two hours at Fouras.  We have visited many times over the years and like it very much for a number of reasons, See my blog……

If you want to explore a bit further afield, then to do it in a day involves quite a lot of driving. I like Ile d’Oleron. I prefer it to Ile de Re partly because the bridge is free and partly because I feel that on the Ile de Re they are bicycle friendly to the point of being car unfriendly. whereas on Ile d’Oleron I think they have the balance right. This week we went to La Cotiniere, and so as to avoid the drive there and back in one day we booked into a hotel for the night.

La Cotiniere1 I would highly recommend the Hotel de la Plage.  It is about 7 minutes walk from the harbour and town area – although it took us 10 minutes to walk in as I am suffering from a torn calf muscle due to an over exuberant game of squash a few weeks ago. The hotel is modern, charming and clean, and the rooms are fine. The hosts are very friendly, breakfast was excellent, with a decent choice and there is a nice clean swimming pool with loungers all round in the garden which also offers table tennis and table football -and to top it all it is only 30 seconds walk to the beach which is, or was when we were there, virtually deserted and long and sandy.  The price is very reasonable so give it a go! There are several other attractive looking hotels nearby. Click here for the Hotel de la Plage web site, and here is a photo I took of the front which is not terribly inspired – it’s the inside of the hotel and its grounds which are its best feature.La Cotiniere2

Continue reading

Restaurant reviews in Poitou-Charentes


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Over 20 restaurants in the Poitou-Charentes region have been subjected to our personal scrutiny. We are working our way through them but its taking time.

Our most recent review was of an excellent restaurant in Lussac les Chateaux. Les Orangeries, Lussac5


To access the reviews click

Or to go directly to the most recent review of Les Orangeries click

Next stop La Cotiniere,  Ile d’Oleron


Super regions of France….. Poitou-Charentes, Aquitaine ??


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There seems to be a growing consensus that if there are to be super regions then the most sensible combination in this area would be to unite Poitou-Charentes with Aquitaine. It was more or less the area controlled by Eleanor of Aquitaine and she did quite a good job of managing it back in those far more turbulent feudal days.

This was the area of her control . Its in green, and she along with the King also had control of Great Britain, I am not proposing that!Aquitaine map


Here are the figures regarding area and populations of the present regions and how it would work out if they were put together as the 3 regions proposedby Francoise Hollande or the two regions of Aquitaine and Poitou-Charentes.

Poitou-Charentes, Population  is 1,722,000 and area is 25,809 Km2

Centre is Population 2,538,000 area is 39,151 Km2

Limousin is Population 750,000 and area 16, 942Km2

Aquitaine is Population 3,150,890 and area 41,308Km2

OK now for the combined totals

Poitou-Charentes/Centre/Limousin would become population 6,010,000 and area 81,902 Km2

Poitou-Charentes/Aquitaine would become population 4,872,890 and area 67,117 km2

I think the combination of Poitou-Charentes with Centre and Limousin is not natural, it covers too diverse an area, it is too big  in population and area. A much better solution would be to link Poitou-Charentes with Aquitaine. Size wise it works much better, at the moment Aquitaine is being left on its own, which they might like but in terms of population it would leave them half the size of a combined Poitou-Charente, Centre, Limousin. So where is the logic in that?

The new area would probably have Bordeaux as its administrative centre and Poitiers might not like that, nor indeed Segolene Royal.

also of interest might be





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This is a small town on the Poitiers to Limoges road and almost on the Vienne river. We have driven through or past it several times and in fact did visit many years ago. My wife with a good memory thought it was the place where I went fishing along with our son on a lake with the remains of a bridge across it. As it turns out she was right and here is the bridge – or what is left of it – and the lake. Lussac les Chateaux10

If you just drive through Lussac it does not make much of an impression. The only feature of note is a large  hotel and restaurant, L’Orangerie which looks interesting and we intend to try a meal there soon.

If you turn off the main road  you enter a fairly smart shopping and restaurant area where the Mairie and the Eglise Sainte Madeleine are also located. There are a number of restaurants and cafes which all seemed to be doing a good trade on a pleasant sunny day.  There was also a cat taking a stroll who seemed to think he  owned the place as he sat down in the middle of the road in front of a car and it took some degree of patience on the part of the driver and some degree of cajoling from me to get him to move on.

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If you follow this blog regularly you will know that  I have little favourites which I like to photograph in each town – plants growing out of walls, street names, window shutters, lavoirs and the like. In Lussac I could not resist this street name – Monsieur Rat was evidently a Gramerian. What is that? There were some plants growing out of walls but nothing that special so I stuck with street names.

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The back streets were fairly unimpressive and one had a large number of empty shops. We wondered if with the smartening up of the central area all the business had moved there or whether it was a product of the recession – possibly a bit of both.

At this stage we were beginning to question whether my wife had remembered correctly but when we saw the sign for an Etang we decided to have a look and there we found the spot with the lake the bridge and the natural history museum.

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Evidently the lake was man-made back in 1492 and was intended as a pond for fish. At that time there was a castle which stood on the ground between the lake and the town but it was sacked in 1569 by Admiral de Coligny and then dismantled. The stone was  used by the locals to build their houses so the castle is still there but  in lots of pieces and distributed throughout the town! Lussac les Chateaux20

When we visited there were a large number of fishermen, serious fishermen with bivvys, optonics, tables and barbecues. I later found out it was a competition called Enduro Carpiste which took place from 6th to 9th June.

There are steep limestone cliffs with numerous caves around the lake. These have been investigated many times and masses of artefacts have been found dating back to the Magdalenian period which was about 15,000B.C – that’s quite a long time ago.

We took a walk round the lake, past the old bridge with just the towers remaining and along a small mill stream which had lots of fish in it, mostly roach and dace but also some nice sized trout. There were also a lot of beautiful damselflies of the Banded Agrion species. These flit about quite a lot so I took several photos and here are some of the better ones. There was a lavoir so I took pictures of that but the museum was closed and looked as if it may have been closed for some time.

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To view posts on other towns and villages in Poitou-Charentes click

What happened on ‘D’ day, (Débarquement), in Poitou-Charentes


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It was just another day. The landings were in Normandy and not in Charente Maritime but because it is the 70th anniversary I have been thinking about what would have been happening in this house in Vienne near the town of Charroux where I am now writing this.

Do you know what was going on in your house? Did it exist?, Who was living there? Did they know it was ‘D’ day.

This is all guess work but there are a few things I know. Firstly the house I am now in did exist. In fact it was an old house even in 1944. When I dismantled the old fireplace in the kitchen I found, between two large pieces of stonework, a piece of card and on it were written some words. They were somewhat faded but this is what I could read ‘ Exczcise 1860  Ricette-Charal de Charroux’  The Ricett-Charal is very faded and could be somewhat different. However what it does tell me is that the stones were probably hewn into shape before 1860 and the fire place installed soon after so the house had been there for at least 84 years when ‘D’ day took place.

When we bought the house it was more or less a shell, and there was not much inside. I did find a few things. The most interesting was a sort of radio found in the loft. I have kept it and this is what it looks like. You can see it has two knobs, one, I think, for on/off and the other  for tuning. There is also a wire which I assume connected to head phones and there is a thin wire wrapped round and round the outside, which I presume is an aerial.  There are also remnants of paper stuck over this wire so that side on this looks like a book…D day3

I am not too sure about this but it looks like a primitive radio to me and might date back to  war time so if the occupants of our house had a radio, they would possibly have known about the invasion as it happened or even before it happened. This area was very active in the resistance during the war. Only a few kilometres from our house was the border between Vichy France and occupied France. Our house was in the area of occupied France. Of course by June 6th 1944 Vichy had ceased to exist, but the resistance was even stronger.

Our hamlet consists of four properties, two big houses and two small. Just down the road from us in the biggest house lived Marcel and his wife. He died two years ago but he had proudly told us that he was a member of the Maquis although at that time he had lived in a neighbouring village only moving to our hamlet after he married a few years after the war. We went to his funeral and it was very moving. There were lots of veterans of resistance units, berets and medals, Each unit of resistance fighters had their own flags and when Marcel’s coffin was taken into the church draped with the French tricolor they all lined up and made an archway with their flags. He was certainly involved in the resistance but not from this hamlet in 1944.

When we moved here our other neighbour told us that the house had previously been owned for 40 years by a Monsiuer Ledresseur.  He had lived in Paris and he used it as a holiday home. We bought the house in 1990 ish so Monsieur Ledresseur had it from 1950 ish.  Did he buy it or did he inherit it as is often the case in France? Were the previous occupants his parents? So on ‘D ‘ day was there a Ledresesur family living here. Maybe the future owner was here as a small boy.

I found very little else in the house. There was a nice framed drawing on the wall. It is still on the wall and this is a photo of it.D day1 I like it a lot, It has two old cars in the foreground and what looks like a vine growing up the wall. Is it somewhere in Paris? Vines in Paris?… maybe not. Did Monsieur Ledresseur draw it?  I don’t know.

Then there were a few bits of pottery and a scent bottle. The broken pot was in the garden in many pieces and I stuck it together. It’s not complete and maybe one day I will find some more of it.

Maybe, then, the occupants knew what was happening on 6th June 1944. Maybe they were resistance fighters. Possibly they found out some days later. What is certain is that they were not liberated for some months to come. This area of France was not a priority for the allies. They were more concerned with pushing east into Germany and getting as far east as they could before the Russians got too far west.

For the locals in this area the last few months of the war brought some terrible horrors, not so far away the worst atrocity was to occur- Oradeur – which I would imagine this had a huge effect on everyone in this region.

If you have any interesting knowledge about your area or house and how the final days of the war affected them then please pass them on if you feel it’s appropriate. I do not want to raise old enmities. Cooperation between the countries of Europe is most important and perhaps more under threat at the moment than it has been for many years. It is a balance between remembering what we do not want to return to and not stirring up old conflicts.D day4


There is a very good book about an English person buying a house in France and then finding out all about its history and the people in the locality. It is called Cellestine by Gillian Tindall , her house is not in Poitou-Charentes but just a bit north of here , however it is a very good read. for other books of relevance to living in France have a look at my list of books about France.D day2



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