What’s on in Poitou-Charentes July 2016


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2038964-639-10326499-800x400Well better late than never, I think after all that referendum stuff my blog mind has gone into temporary retirement, and this month is the big one there is so much on.

July 2016

Respire Jazz festival; Aignes et Puyperoux: 1st 2nd and 3rd July (more)

Le festival de les Sarabandes; Marcillac Lanville: 1st to 31st July (more)

Festival International du Film; La Rochelle: 1st to 10th July (more)

TOUR DE FRANCE stage 7,  through Vienne; 5th July (more)

Cognac Blues Passion: Guess where …its in Cognac!  5th to 9th July (more)

Nuits Blanches en Pays Jaune D’Or; Segonzac: 1st to 31st July

Festival au Village; Brioux sur Boutonne: 2015 dates were 3rd to 11th July  

Festival Jeux Santons; Saintes 8th to 19th July (more)

GT Tour;Circuit du Val de Vienne, Le Vigeant, Don’t think its on this year Their web site is always difficult to negotiate and seems to have the 2015 calendar. Check it out for what its worth (more) 

Medieval Fete de Dignac; Dignac: 10th July (more)

Festival de Music et Danse; Airvault: 9th to 17th July (more)

Festival Ludique; Parthenay: 6th to 17th July (more)

Terre de Danses; Bressuire,  Neuil les Aubiers: 7th to 10th July (more) 

Les Francofilies; La Rochelle 13th to 17th July (more)

Festival des Enfants du Monde; Saint Maixent L’Ecole:12th to 16th July (more)

Festival de Musique classique; Saintes: 8th to 16th July (more) Great setting for this.

Journées artisanales; Angles sur l’Anglin ;  14th and 15th July (more)

Festival Atouts Arts; Thouars: roughly 15th to 18th July. (more)

Festival Musique en Re; Le Blois-plage en re:15th to 28th July, A musical web site….beware. (more) 

La Guinguette Buissonniere; Angouleme: last year it was 17th July to 9th August , and the link is to 2015 site (more)

La Roche a Foucauld;  La Rochefoucauld: 23rd and 24th July (more)

International Painting Festival; Magne: 23rd and 24th July (more)

Fete du Cognac; Cognac:28th 29th and 30th July (more)

Festival de Bouche a Oreille; Parthenay: end of August; still got 2015 web site (more)

Coupe d’Europe Montgolfieres; Mainfonds:  August; still got 2015 web site (more)

Un Violin sur le Sable; Royan:23rd 26th and 29th July (more) With fireworks.  

Les Estivales d’Artenetra Celles-sur-Belles and surrounds, around ?July 22 – August 8 (more)..also 2015 site

European membership, part 59 ‘A chasm of uncertainty’

Tomorrow is referendum day ( I voted by post a couple of weeks ago).

A vote to remain in the EU is a vote for the status quo. We know what we are getting although some of us will know more about what the EU stands for than others.  If you still think its all about giving up our sovereignty, migration and straight bananas, then you have not read my last 60 articles. They are still available so its not too late to check them out before you vote.

However the EU will not remain as it now for ever. It will evolve and change as it always has done. If we remain a part of it then we will be able to influence the direction it moves in.overcoming-chasm

A vote to leave is a leap in the dark, a leap into a chasm of uncertainty, which will involve complex negotiations, and probably many changes to our relationships with the countries of Europe, more than you ever dreamt of. If we leave then we will not be able to influence the way the EU evolves and changes, but we will have to live with the consequences all the changes that they make.Uncertainty-is-Different-than-Risk

mmm whatever that means…. I think that we can’t asses the risk involved in an exit vote – we do not know whether bridges can be built or if the future will be like walking a tightrope but we do know what we have at the moment and what we have is a better life than we have ever had. And for the future, that is as always unknown.

That’s it…… no more politics and back to wild flowers, restaurants, lavoirs, ghost adverts, entertainments and history.

European membership, part 58: Summing up

This is my penultimate blog on the European membership issue so I thought a little summing up would be in order.

Since starting on this exercise I have covered all sorts of issues from things like the supply of pork sausages and bacon to booze cruises to migration to life for expats in France/the EU as a whole and the one I consider to be the most important which is the continued peace in Europe. Some are more important than others but a lot depends on where you are standing. If you are a pig farmer then the cost of bacon might be a high priority.

As I see it there are five broad areas at issue.

  1. Migration…. my view is that we need people from other countries to do the jobs we either cannot  supply ourselves or are not willing to do ourselves. Better control and distribution of migrants would be good but lets look at them as an asset not a burden.
  2. The economic argument….Trade/Jobs, inward investment into GB, balance of payments.
  3. Maintaining peace in Europe;  This is the first time in recorded history that there has not been any wars between the EU members since the formation of the EEC.
  4. Personal issues. Things like how much alcohol you can bring back from France, living/working in Europe, the cost of airfares, health insurance.
  5. Sovereignty, I have covered many issues on this one… most of the ‘important’ areas of government are controlled by Westminster, not the EU. Defence, NHS, Education, Taxation, Welfare and pensions and others. The EU has a big influence on environment and workers rights, but that is probably for the best.

European membership, part 57: Nobel prize


NobelUE2012The 2012 Nobel Peace prize was awarded to the European Union (EU) “for over six decades, having contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe” by a unanimous decision of the Norwegian Nobel Committee.

In a survey of  over 25,000 people across Europe, held after the peace prize was awarded, the majority of people in every European country thought that Peace and democracy are the most important achievements of the EU.

In Britain 63% of the people interviewed thought that Peace and democracy was the greatest achievement of the EU. Despite this being a good majority of the people we rated this achievement less highly than most other European countries. Only Cyprus and Greece gave it a lower approval rating than us, but even in these countries it was still well above 50%. To read all the results of this poll click European public opinion

In a recent article entitled ‘We have peace in Europe because of the EU’ published in the Huffington post  Alan Grant (Politics, economics and popular culture writer) said.

‘The success of the European Union has been in establishing a ‘positive peace’. This kind of peace is established when different nations, groups of people or organisations become so vested in the interests of one another, and dependent on mutual cooperation, that the prospect of conflict becomes remote to the point of impossibility.

This is what the European Union has done for the countries of Europe. As part of Europe, we have created a network of institutions, agreements, practices and operations that depend so much on our collaboration and shared efforts that the possibility of violent conflict is no more. There is, of course, ideological conflict, what else could happen when the Brits, the Germans, the Spanish and the Dutch get into the same room to talk politics? But ideological conflict is a good thing; it helps refine ideas, it puts them to the test and prevents stagnation. It is constructive; but violent conflict is not and it is the latter kind of conflict that the European project has helped to make virtually impossible’

He actually said a lot more but this is the most relevant passage. To read the whole article click Huffington post. Also the same sentiments were expressed by David Cameron but I thought you might have heard enough from him by now. If you would like to read what he said then click Dave on Peace in Europe

European membership, part 56: Old timers

Well we are almost there now, so time for me to concentrate or why I think being a member of the EU is better than leaving.

Peaceful coexistence…… As in any relationship there will be disagreements, there will be areas were individuals will have different views, there will be a need to compromise, but it is all worthwhile if we do not end up killing one another.1432620291033

RAF veteran and NHS campaigner Harry Leslie Smith said: “Britain is stronger in Europe because it reflects the values my generation fought for in Europe during the Second World War.”

D-Day veteran and former Royal Marine Patrick Churchill warned: “If it breaks or we are not in that union, then countries will fall apart. The only solution is to bind together, hold together, there we find strength.

RAF veteran David Meylan said: “We sacrificed many, many men in both world wars and this was to establish a peaceful and a prosperous union. We can’t sacrifice that now.”

Field Marshal Lord Bramall, former chief of the defence staff, said: “We would be going backwards, not forwards in what we set out to cure after the terrible tragedies of the Second World War.”



These are the words of the men who survived the second world war, I wonder what the 14,600,000 from western Europe who did not survive would have said, along with their loved ones and children.

If you would like to look back on other posts about our EU membership ( there are obviously 56 others, this being number 57) click EU membership summary And if you think any of them particularly relevant then please feel free to reblog or share them.

European membership, part 55: Spain, Portugal, Italy etc


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With a blog name like Poitou-Charentes I have addressed the French community in general, but of course there are many brits living in other European countries.Spain_travel_guide_-_10th_edition142753

According to the United Nations Population Division, the number of British people living in the EU is 1.2 million. (The largest communities are in Spain – 309,000, Ireland – 255,000, France – 185,000 and Germany – 103,000.

British expatriates may have to stop living abroad in European countries like France and Spain if Britain leaves the European Union, the Government has suggested. Europe Minister David Lidington warned over the weekend that a British exit would see “everything we take for granted about access to the single market” in question, including “the right of British citizens to go and live in Spain or France”.

This is a post from a blog by Spanish rosie…  Do have  a look at her blog which covers all sorts of things Spanish and living in Europe and only briefly refers to the referendum and politics. It is entitled….

How will UK cope with return of all expats if UK leaves EU

There is a referendum on the 23rd June to decide whether the UK should stay in the EU or not. Lots of people have views as to whether the UK should stay or walk away. Many, in both camps, are very valid.

I write this as one of 1.2 million expats living in Europe. No one at the moment can answer questions as to what will happen to us if the UK leaves the EU. Rumours abound. The worse possible scenario is that these expats will have to return to the UK. As a result of that consider this. The population of the UK will increase by 1.2 million overnight, more or less. Can the UK cope with this sudden population increase? Then think of the following. All these people will need housing. All of these people are entitled to NHS healthcare. Many in their sixties & over will be entitled to pensions & winter fuel allowance. Others will be entitled to benefits of some kind. Many will be of working age & wanting work. Some will want school places for their children. The NHS is already being pushed to its limits & many schools already have classes that are too large with teachers leaving.

Please tell me how, if the UK leaves the EU & the worst happens, the UK will cope with a population increase of 1.2 expats PLUS all the foreign migrants that will enter the UK from Calais……..

Me? I want to stay here in Spain. This is my dream home; my life home. I don´t want to be forced back to the UK if the worst happens.

Why did we move to Spain? We have a long list of reasons but the top two have to be that everything is so expensive & the high taxation. Here we don´t pay community charge, water rates or for a TV license. My car tax is €57 per year. Two large coffees cost us €2.60 (total). Last time I was in UK I paid around£4.90! Our favourite bottle of wine here costs €3.70 but I saw the same in Sainsburys on our last UK visit for £9.70. A three course meal with wine costs €10.

I live in a rural farming community far from the preverbal madding crowd. There are only about a hundred people in my village. We don´t have access to public transport. There isn´t a bar. We do have a Cooperativa which deals basically in farming stuffs. They carry a very basic comestible stock which is useful. Anything more than that we have to go into Trevias which is a fifteen minute drive from us. It´s a very small town but a hub of activity. There is a plethora of bars, as well as a small supermarket, bakers, butchers etc. It´s much as English towns used to be. The bars are always busy as everyone gathers in them to catch the news & gossip. We don´t pay for parking. You park where & how you like. If you just want to pop in a shop for a couple of minutes it´s quite normal to double park!

I know my neighbours. I can go to anyone for help & it´ll be freely given. There are invitations to pop in for coffee, wine or beer. If you call on anyone & they are having a meal they´ll get a spare plate & share……. Hospitality is second to none.

Then there is the free food. During the relative seasons everyone gathers chestnuts, figs, blackberries, walnuts & mushrooms from along the public caminos. Most people have lemon trees & share their excess fruit.

Do I want to go back to the UK to live? NO. Does the UK want 1.2 million expats back living in the UK? I think the answer to that question is also NO. Think before you vote to leave the EU!!!!!

To see other posts about our EU membership ( there are obviously 55 others, this being number 56) click EU membership summary And if you think any of them particularly relevant then please feel free to reblog or share them.

European membership, number 54: Europol


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_45572767_000055501-1What is Europol? Well it’s like Interpol – Inspector Clouseau  and that sort of stuff.

Interpol was established in 1923 and covers 190 countries.

Europol is the European equivalent. OK lets get serious….

This is the introduction to the Europol website

Europol is the European Union’s law enforcement agency whose main goal is to help achieve a safer Europe for the benefit of all EU citizens. We do this by assisting the European Union’s Member States in their fight against serious international crime and terrorism.

Large–scale criminal and terrorist networks pose a significant threat to the internal security of the EU and to the safety and livelihood of its people. The biggest security threats come from terrorism, international drug trafficking and money laundering, organised fraud, counterfeiting of the euro currency, and people smuggling. But new dangers are also accumulating, in the form of cybercrime, trafficking in human beings, and other modern-day threats. This is a multi–billion euro business, quick to adapt to new opportunities and resilient in the face of traditional law enforcement measures.

Bob Wainwright, the director of the EU’s law enforcement agency said: “If you put at risk any part of the framework for international police cooperation and intelligence sharing, that Britain currently relies on, then there clearly is potential for consequences.

“I think there are some pretty serious security consequences actually.”

He added. “If we accept that the EU does provide an important part of our security … then the debate moves on to how do we mitigate that potential loss, so it becomes a damage limitation exercise.”

Also the former heads of MI5 and MI6 have warned that leaving the EU could undermine “our ability to protect ourselves” from terrorists.

Baron Evans of Weardale, the former director-general of MI5, and Sir John Sawers, the former head of MI6, say Brexit could also lead to “instability on the Continent”, compounding the current “economic difficulties, the migration crisis and a resurgent Russia”.

In an article for The Sunday Times, the former spy chiefs warn that a vote to leave could damage intelligence sharing because the EU would restrict surveillance powers if the UK were not in the union.

To see other posts about our EU membership ( there are obviously 54 others, this being number 55) click EU membership summary And if you think any of them particularly relevant then please feel free to reblog or share them.

European membership,number 53:Oradour sur Glane


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Today is the 10th of June, in 1944 on Saturday 10th of June a most terrible event took place in a little French town in the department of Haut Vienne. I had originally intended to use this as my final post about the EU referendum, but decided to post it on the 12th June as that was the day this all happened.Oradour sur Glane116

I went there on the 10th of May this year to take photos, it was not a good experience. I had visited once before but had declined to photograph it out of respect. However this time I had a purpose.

I will not lecture you about the rights and wrongs the ifs and maybes, the photos speak for themselves. I took over 300 photos and here are some of them…. There are quite a lot but please try to work your way through them… it will not take that long. They are presented in the same order as I took them.

You can control the speed of the photos by using the forward arrow, then if you want to stop on any particular photo and dwell on its magnitude you can.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I bought a book about what happened and it is even more harrowing than just looking at the village…. One thing I will pass on to you is that when you see bed steads and bicycles and prams in odd distorted shapes it is not caused by the passage of time but by the blasts from grenades and bullets and the heat of the fires burning in the houses of the people of Oradour on that day in 1944…….

My main reason for voting to stay in the EU is to try an prevent something like this ever happening again.

European Membership, number 52, Sovereignty, the last word.


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We are nearing the 23rd of June now so I thought I would start to bring things together. There is a lot of talk about how much influence the EU has over our laws.

Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage famously contradicted each other in a televised debate

Farage quoted former European Commissioner for Justice Viviane Reding, that 75% of UK law originates from Brussels. In last nights debate he said it was 66%.

Clegg claimed in the TV debates in the run-up to the EU elections that only 7% of British laws came from the continent. Take your pick.

Of course you can have a plethora of relatively minor laws concerning the imports of a variety of rare species and just one quite important law concerning the age at which pensions might be paid, so that the actual number of laws is relatively unimportant.

A much better quide is which areas of legislation are covered by the EU and which are not.

Free trade – The EU is a trade bloc which means there are no quotas or tariffs for companies exporting goods and services within the EU

Common commercial policy – these are rules put in place to protect EU businesses using things like tariffs, subsides and quotas on imports from outside the eurozone.

Those are essentially extra payments or restrictions.

EU competition law – this means that if you have a company you should have the opportunity to do business across the EU.

The law is designed to stop bigger firms abusing their power by setting up cartels and monopolies.

The internal market – the single market means UK citizens are free to move, live, study and trade anywhere within the EU.

This also affects you when you go on holiday within the European Union because there are no customs limits.

There are also no border controls across most of the EU either – the UK is one exception to that rule.

Trans-European networks – many areas of Europe have benefited from this policy with new roads and transport networks designed to make it easier for the different countries to transport goods and services across the EU.

Energy – this is a common policy for European energy needs and proposals for making energy greener.

It also means when you sell or rent a property you have to provide a home energy performance rating chart such as an energy efficiency rating.

EU energy labels have also been introduced on all electrical goods like washing machines and even light bulbs to try to make us all more aware of what energy we’re using.

Area of freedom, security and justice – this is designed to make it easier for police across the EU to cooperate but also to ensure fair treatment in different judicial systems for all EU citizens.

There is a European arrest warrant that means you can be arrested anywhere in the EU for more serious crimes committed in another EU country.

Common fisheries policy – every EU state must stick to rules on fishing set by Europe.

This affects fishermen in the UK, who are only allowed to fish for certain types of fish at certain times of the year to conserve stocks.

There are also understandings on public health, the environment, consumer protection, transport, social policy, plus economic, social and territorial cohesion.

There are common foreign, security and defence policies which run alongside the policies of member states although there is no European army or single European foreign policy.

So the EU does affect a lot of areas, however in terms of government spending and in terms of what you and I would most likely think to be the priorities then the EU has no influence. It does not make laws in the following areas. In some of these areas the EU may express guide lines and suggest policy aspirations.. but no legislation.

The EU does not control how individual states raise their taxes.

The EU does not determine our health care.

The EU has no influence on our defence.

The EU is not responsible for our Education system.

The EU does not determine what we spend on welfare or pensions.

The EU does not exert any control over our police, civil protection or disaster prevention.

The EU does not control any of our sports arrangements

And there is more, but it is getting more and more of a minor in importance.


To give you an idea of the relative importance of these different areas have a look at this chart.

To see other posts about our EU membership ( there are obviously 51 others, this being number 52) click EU membership summary And if you think any of them particularly relevant then please feel free to reblog or share them.


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