The Speckled Wood; Pararge aegeria


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This butterfly was out and about in early March in Poitou-Charentes.

Speckled wood

Speckled Wood

I photographed this one whilst walking along a cliff top path near Saint Palais sur Mer on 4th March 2015.

The caterpillars feed on various grasses, and are long green and thin thus resembling a blade of grass and this helps them to avoid be eaten by hungry birds and lizards.

There are normally several broods of butterflies each year. This species overwinters as a caterpillar or as the chrysalid.

There is a similar butterfly called the Wall Brown and they do look quite similar, the photo below is the Wall Brown.wall brown

This photo is from a web site called

Firecrests and Goldcrests


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These are tiny little birds, even smaller than wrens. They are also quite stunning. In England you are more likely to see a Goldcrest, but in Poitou-Charentes you are more likely to see a Firercrest.Goldcrest. Firecrest are the best in that the crest which is the stripe down the centre of its head is bright orange whereas in the Goldcrest it is yellow or gold. Also the Firecrest has more distinctive facial markings in that it has a black stripe through its eye and a white stripe immediately above, in the area which we might call its eyebrow. This is known by birdwatchers as the supercillium. This is a Firecrest. It is not a brilliant photo But it does show the eye stripe etc.Garden birds2

I have recently bought a new camera, it is a Canon 70D which is basically the new version of my previous camera the 50D. I still have the 50D but use that with a normal lens and the 70D is used with my 400mm telephoto. This means that I now no longer have to change lenses and risk getting dust into the cameras.  The down side is my camera equipment weighs even more than it did before. The new camera is slightly different to the old one so I want to practice using it, so that I get used to it before we go on a big holiday to Canada in a few months time.

I had seen a Firecrest in the garden a couple of days ago and this afternoon the weather was vaguely better than it has been for the last week, ie not completely sh.t, so I spent some time photographing small birds.  Not with a huge amount of success but as I said it was a practice session and as you can see I need the practice. This is my best shot of the Firecrest, it is reasonably in focus and you can just see the  fire coloured crest. It is a pity it has its back to me and some of the vegetation is obscuring it….apart from that it is fine!Garden birds3

Here are some shots of a Chiff Chaff a Great tit, a Long tailed tit and a Tree creeper whch I also took this afternoon.

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In all I took over 150 shots ( that’s four rolls of film in old money) and virtually all have been deleted, this is because these little birds are very active and often by the time you have focused on them they have moved. Also in order to get sufficient light you cannot use too fast a shutter speed so if the bird moves, (which they do a lot) then the photo will be blurred, and if you are photographing against a light sky then the bird will be dark (underexposed) You can adjust for this but by the time you have done this the bird will have flown off…… it is quite frustrating and so here are some of the photos which illustrate these problems.

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Angouleme art.


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I am quite a fan of wall paintings/graffiti; where does one stop and the other start? Banksy… Graffiti vandal?Angouleme1

Anyway we had a day in Angouleme today and a good meal in La Cantine , we have eaten there before, some years ago. My wife will do a review of it soon but at the moment is watching the Wales France rugby match (for the runners spot?)

Here are a few photos I took today, ranging from a black and white stencil to a full on 4 story high  3D painting.

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There was also a very nice scooter so I photographed that as wellAngouleme4

What’s on in Poitou-Charentes; March 2015


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Quite a lot…… for example we have

Demonstration de Vehicules anciens a Enchillias

Demonstration de Vehicules anciens a Enchillias

So far over 110 different events have been listed for 2015. To see what is on for the other months this year,  click  What’s on in Poitou-Charentes

To get more details about each event click where it says  (more) at the end of the brief event details.

Half Marathon; Taillebourg: 1st March (more)

Demonstration de Vehicules anciens a Enchillias; Rochefort 1st March. (more)

Printemps des Poets; Niort: 7th to 22nd March (more)

Venetian Carnival; Etaules: 8th March

Carnival; Poitiers: 11th March (more) 

Mars en Branconne 2015; Branconne: 13th to 22nd March   (more)







There is lots on in Brancome so do check it out, Jazz with Christian Escoude is just one of the many events. He is performing on 15th March at the Salle du Bourg de Champniers.

Les Musicales; Gond Pontuvre: 13th March to 5th April (more) 

La Tete dans les Nuages – magic, circus,arts, and dance for youngsters; Angouleme; 14thto 20th March (more) 

Half Marathon; Foules de-Saint Eutrope: 15th March (more)

Half Marathon; Bressuire :15th March (more)

Half Marathon; La Rochelle:15th March (more) 

Fete de le Saint Patrick; Bressuire:17th March (more)

Carnival; Blanzac Porcheresse: 28th March

Carnival; St-Pierre-d’Oleron: 28th March

Troc aux Plantes; Chalais (Jardin de la Tude): 28th March

Terri’Thouars Blues: Thouars: 24th to 29th March (more)

Rochefort Pacifique cinema et literature; Rochefort 25th to 29th March. (more)

Johnny Clarke (reggae) Angouleme 29th March (more) could be good

Foire at Rouillac: 27th March

Exposition; Pras dans tous ses Etats; Angouleme: 27th March to 3rd Jan 2016….so no rush for this one then  (more)


Literary Festival in Charroux; August 2015


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Folllowing on from publishing my ‘Whats on in Poitou-Charentes’ post which has now over 100 different events listed for this year, I was contacted by one of my Facebook ‘friends’ and informed of an event I had omitted from the list.

This is good and I have suggested to organisers and interested parties that they let me know about their events and I will then add them to the list. However this is in my local patch so it is getting an extra mention. You have to support your own area and I know that quite a few of my Facebook friends are from the Civray/Charroux area.

The event is taking place in Charroux in August, it is three days 27th, 28th and 29th of August. You can click on……. and go direct to the web site and it looks as if it is getting regularly updated so worth keeping an eye on.

Kate-Mosse-2x2aThey have a good list of authors visiting, some local and some from a bit further away. Some even I have heard of, like Kate Mosse, ( not Kate Moss, just incase you are wondering) so they must be famous.  I only read about half a dozen novels a year, unlike my wife who sometimes reads one a day when we are on holiday and I would guess gets through about 200 a year.

Here is the full list of writers booked so far. To find out more about each author and indeed more about the festival, then visit their site where there are links to the web sites of each of the authors.

Isabel Ashdown

Margaret Clarke

Katherine Gallagher

Sarah Harrison

Elizabeth Haynes

Hélène Kerillis

Jacqui Lofthouse

Alison Morton

Kate Mosse

James Vance

Maguy Gallet Villechange blog:

Barry Walsh

22 becomes 13 (Regions of France)


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So Poitou-Charentes, Limousin and Aquitaine are to be joined into one region, this will be the largest in terms of land area. The  National Assembly voted in favour of plans to reduce the number of French Regions from 22 to 13. This is a cost saving exercise and also aimed at reducing bureaucracy. The changes are due to come into effect in January 2016.1405698917_map_regions_july

On the new map of France, Brittany, Corsica, Centre, lle-de France, Pays de la Loire and Provence-Alps-Cote d’Azur will remain the same. However, the following regions will be joined together to form larger regions: Poitou-Charentes, Aqutaine and Limousin; Midi-Pyrenees and Languedoc-Roussillon; Auvergne and Rhone-Alps; Burgundy and France-Comte; Champagne-Ardenne, Lorraine and Alsace; Nord-Pas-de-Calais and Picardy; and upper and Lower Normandy.

There are currently no plans to change the departments, and names for the new regions are still to be decided. The big question is which cities will be designated as the capitals of the newly formed regions,  Will it be Poitier or Bordeaux? I doubt if Limoges will be considered as it is not central enough. Maybe it will be somewhere completely new, but that would cost too much and this is all about saving money.

Any way I think this is a better grouping than the original Hollande proposal which combined Poitou-Charentes with Limousin and Centre, that did not seem to be historically or geographically correct.

Also what will it be called, to many names to call it Poitou-Charentes Aquitaine Limousin, I suspect it will be Sud-Quest

What’s on in Poitou-Charentes – February 2015


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Below is a list of some of the events taking place this month across the region.

So far 98 different events have been listed for 2015. To see what is on for the other months this year,  click  What’s on in Poitou-Charentes

To get more details about each event click where it says  (more) at the end of the brief event details.

Good opportunity to buy truffles this month??les-truffes-seront-presentees-au-marche-de-jarnac-le-mardi-6_584814_460x306

February 2015

Foire de Bande Dessine; Angouleme:29th January to 1st Feb. (more)

Festival les Givres;Melle: 12th to 14th Feb (more)

Foire de Truffles: Villebois-lavalette : 14th February (more)

Piano Festival Saintonge 13th and 14th Feb.

Mimosa Festival: Saint-Trojan-les Bains: 20th to 22nd Feb (more)

Festival International d’Echecs de Rochefort – Chess championship: Rochefort: 21st to 27th Feb (more)

Foire de Truffles:Jarnac: 19th February 9.30am to 10.30am

Dire le Monde; Saintes 19th to 24th Feb.

Open day at seven Moulins near Rochefoucauld: 21st and 22nd Feb: Bandiat Tardoire (more)

Ancient Weapons Fair: Poitiers: 22nd Feb (more)

Foire de Truffles:Jarnac: every Tuesday morning till end of Feb

If you have information about an event which is not listed then please let me know (simply write a comment about this page)

If you are an organiser of an event later in the year and it is not listed also contact me and I will add it in.



Poitou-Charentes shopping bags



I saw this on Facebook this morning. It was posted by one of my ‘friends’

Shopping Bags

Shopping Bags

The lady who posted it said ‘They are 15 euros each in the Rouillac market. Other colors black and pink and also smaller sized ones’

I have not credited the person who posted this because she may not want everyone knowing her identity but if she sees this and if she wants me to then I am happy to mention her name.

If any one knows any more about these bags, like where else they are available or who produces them then please let me know. I think they are really great and have the real spirit of Poitou-Charentes.

Magpie or Pie (as its called in France)


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Here’s one I took earlier, they always seem to be more shy in France than in the UK.




This is a  Magpie not a Pie. The photo was with a Canon 50D and an EF 100mm to 400mm telephoto set at 400mm, then cropped by about 30%

Red Lorry; Yellow Lorry


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Many years ago we played the lorry game, it was one of those games to keep the children occupied on the journey form Calais to Poitou-Charentes.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA It all started with Norbet Dentresangle lorries but it developed and became quite complex and competitive.

I usually won because I was driving and so kept my eyes on the road all the time whereas the children’s attention would inevitably wander. I did a blog about the exact nature of the game some years ago so I wont go through it all again but if you click Lorry game then you can see how it worked.

Recently whilst waiting in Dover I did the nerdy thing and took a series of Photos of the lorries and with the exception of Norbert Dentresangle all the lorries we used to look out for seem to have fallen by the wayside. Where are the Frans Mass and Catalan Lines? What has happened to Norfolk Line and Danzas? We even had one from Portugal called Olloquegei.

We do still see the occasional Willi Betz and although it was not part of our game at the time I still have a childish titter when I see a Fockeday lorry.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Here is a Yellow lorry, this one was not part of the game I wonder if there is a Prancer and a Rudolph to go with it.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANorbert is the red lorry in case you are wondering, but I seem to recall that Frans Mass was also red as was one called Transcontinental routeways and this could cause problems when playing the lorry game…. You lost points for wrong identification… see I told you it was Nerdy.

You could still play the game of course but you would need to have different lorries and a wife who would be prepared to join in and be as nerdy as I am.


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