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,

Temporary break in service

My computer threw a wobbly yesterday and reset itself up with factory settings. I would not alow backup of any programes, photos, documents etc which was on there.  So I cannot download any photos  from my camera onto the computer and canot then prepare them for placing on a blog.


When I return to GB in 2 weeks time I will no doubt be able to sort things out.



Hairy caterpillar… Gypsy moth


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Well I think its a Gipsy moth but I am not 100% sure. Gipsy moth caterpillar5This one was crawling across our patio table, so no clues as to what food plant I found it on, unless it likes tomato and endive salad, mixed charcuterie, fresh bread and a glass of 1664.  Probably not.

I put him on a nearby Hazel bush and took his photo.

A word of warning the hairs of some caterpillars can cause skin irritations so best not to play with them, but I am fairly thick skinned so just moving it from table to hazel bush was fairly risk free.

There is a web site which might help you identify caterpillars and it is

To see other photos I have taken click Alamy Photos


Poitou-Charentes wildflower of the month August 2014 Toadflax


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Toadflax, which in French is called Linaire commune, is flowering well this month and you will often see it growing by the roadside. The photos I have taken for this blog came from some plants that were growing up through a hedge and as a result the plants had reached a height of about 200cm which is quite tall. Often they are between 50 to 100 cm tall. Toadflax4It is related to the garden flower Antirrhinum which has the ‘bunny’ shaped flowers which open when you  squeeze them. The point behind this shape of flower is that  it takes quite a strong insect like a bumble bee to push between the upper and lower lips of the flower in order to enter it, thus gaining access to the nectar within……. ‘Do you have a nectar card?’ …. ‘NO,  leave me alone.  I do not wish to be sucked into your organisation’….. Sorry I’m off on a rant again. Anyway the large bees gain entry and in so doing they get covered with pollen which they then transfer to the next flower they visit.Toadflax3

It is called Toadflax because it’s leaves are very similar to the leaves of Flax. When Linnaeus gave it it’s scientific name he called it Linaria which is derived from Linum which is Flax. The toad bit probably comes from the acrid bitter milky juice that comes from the plant if you damage it or break it. Toads produce a milky acid tasting liquid from their warts if they are bitten or roughly handled and this is a protection against animals like foxes or dogs that might otherwise eat them.

Toadflax is very widely distributed. It occurs all across Europe, across Siberia and even as far as China. It also extends down into northern Asia. It does prefer  a light well-drained alkaline or chalky soil.  Where I photographed it there was also  some Travellers Joy  (or Old Mans Beard) growing. This is a wild clematis which is very indicative of alkaline conditions.

Like most plants it has been used in the past for various things. The yellow flowers have been used as a dye and  it has also been used for medicinal purposes. The leaves were cooked up with lard and then the mixture stained to produce a green ointment which was used on piles and also on sores and ulcers. Whether it did any good is debatable – probably a bit of lard without any Toadflax would have been just as good.Toadflax5

The Toadflax Brocade moth caterpillar feeds on the Toadflax plant.  I spotted a caterpillar on one of  the plants I was photographing. To see what the moth looks like and find out a bit more about it click on this link.

For other flowers of the month click the link below. Previously  August  flowers of the month have been Wild Chicory (Chicorum intybus) 2012 and  Hemp Agrinomy (Eupatorium cannabinium)2013

To identify other flowers from this region click…

To see other photos I have taken click Alamy Photos

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.


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