Cream-spot Tiger Moth (Arctia villica)


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The Cream-spot Tiger is quite a common moth in both France and southern UK it is often attracted to lights and is on the wing in May and June.

The eggs are laid on groundsel, ragwort, chickweed, dead nettles and dock amongst other things, so the food plant is quite variable. The caterpillars hatch in July and are of the dark brown woolly type. They overwinter as caterpillars and then resume eating and growing in Spring.  In May they spin a cocoon and turn into the pupae but only stay in this stage for a short time, hatching out in late May or June.

Les Ormes, Mitterand, Brexit and more.


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We have just enjoyed the company of some long standing friends, (too long to say how long,) who have visited us at Chez Sapin in the beautiful Poitou-Charentes countryside.     Four days and we never stopped talking except to sleep and even that was  well after midnight each day.

The conversations were wide and varied, the dreaded ‘B’ word did get mentioned as did the UK elections, Trump, Macron and others. The few of our mutual FB friends will recognise the style.

Much wine and good food was indulged in, the wine no doubt lubricating the conversations but not necessarily improving them! One of the wines was this red from Les Ormes, there are also whites from Les… I wrote a blog about            ‘Les Ormes…cockney made good’ some years ago.  It was well received at the time but those of you who missed it might like to click the link and read all about Les ( its pronounced LEZ with a Phil Mitchell accent ).

This area of France is quite good for bird life, we get Buzzards and Black Kites, Hoopoes and Golden Orioles, loads of Nightingales, Redstarts, Stonechats and many more.  John and Jayne ( our friends) were polite enough to show an interest, actually I think they were genuinely interested in the bird life and it lightened the conversation from the disaster of the referendum and the impending gloom when/if May becomes our Fuhrer.

I think it was the Golden Oriole which prompted John to mention Francoise Mitterrand’s last meal. I was vaguely aware of this being something special but not familiar with the small bird he evidently consumed with a tea towel over his head.

Francoise Mitterand is of course a local lad and is one of the two claims to fame that Jarnac has, which is where he was born and lived in his childhood, the other being that Jarnac is the home of Courvoisier, another famous name. I also have written about Mitterrand and Jarnac, you might also like to have a look at that blog, (more serious than Les Ormes)

I looked up the last supper of Francoise and the bird is an Ortolan Bunting, it is small and looks like a cross between a Yellowhammer and a Cirl Bunting. It is not that common, but can be seen in this part of France during the summer months. Most unlikely in GB. However I must say that I have never noticed one.

The catching and cooking of this small bird is illegal but I suppose if you are the ex President of France and you are about to die then you can get away with it. There is a lot of ritual to the catching preparing and eating this little bird. It is caught live by using sticks with glue on them so the bird gets stuck. This method also catches lots of other small birds. You have to do it this way because shooting such a small bird would blast it into too many small pieces.  Killing it is also not so pleasant; it is drowned in Armagnac, this some French chefs argue is not such a bad way to die, more preferable than being dunked into boiling water which is the method for many shell fish, crabs and lobsters. Also the process will marinate the bird. Once it is cooked the method of eating is quite bizarre. you place a cloth over your head and then put the entire bird into your mouth and eat everything, bones, head guts and all, except the feet. The idea of the cloth is said to be to keep the aromas close so that you get the very fullest of flavour.

President Mitterand did not just have Ortolans for his last meal. He started with Marennes oysters , 36 of them! Then he had Foie Gras which as you know does involve geese suffering a bit but it also tastes great. Then a capon which was beautifully cooked and very tender and finally the Ortolan buntings. Evidently not every guest tried them, Mitterand took one and eat it with cloth over head when he emerged there were still three left so he took one more and eat that.  Also of course wines from Bordeaux were drunk and the entire meal took over four hours.

He subsequently died! You can read a very detailed account of this meal by clicking Mitterands last meal.

Whats on in Poitou-Charentes; May 2017


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Well, what’s on at the time of preparing this is an orange alert storm warning. Lets hope all passes by without too much disruption. Also what’s on is the elections, French and British. Presumably most of my FB ‘friends’ will want Macron to win because even on FB you get a sense of peoples leanings and if you are my friend then you would sense that I lean to the Liberal side of the political spectrum.

OK this is what is on for May.

May 2017

Ateliers adultes création de mosaique 3ème cycle St Romain-en-Gal, 3rd May  (more)This is close to Vienne which is just south of Lyon…. my mistake, sorry

Sortie avec Nature Vivante : Jardins & biodiversitéCentre-village
38780 Estrablin 4th May (more)


Vide Grenier; La Couarde sur Mer  7th May (more)

Vienne en Fleurs; 30 Avenue du General Leclerc 38200 Vienne, 7th May  (more)  

Festival Plein Sud; Cozes : 9th May to 14th May (more)

Atelier Chocolat; 22 rue du Bourg, Chocolaterie Letuffe, TROIS PALIS: 4th May  and again on 10th May(more)

Festival International de Music de Chambre en Charente; Chalais  6th May to 4th June  (more)

Découverte du patrimoine: Vienne nuits et legends; 14 Cours Brillier 38200 Vienne  13th May and future dates throughout the summer check web site (more)

Regate Le Grand Largue; St Denis D’Oleron 13th May (more)


Patrimoine, Jazz and Wine – Jazz & pop: 12 pl Aristide Briand
69560 Sainte-Colombe 18th May (more)

Le mentaliste Thierry Collet, Chasseneuil du Poitou 19th May (more)

Half Marathon; Aytre-La Rochelle 21st May  and Futuroscope in May (more)

Rallye du Printemps; (motor sport) Bords, Charente Maritime: 13th and 14th May  always a slow site to publish the current years agenda so check it out. (more)


Festival Histoire de Choeurs; St Palais sur Mer, 19th to 21st May (more) 

Spectacles nocturnes Coeurs en Bataille; Nouaille-Maupertuis:   12th May (more)Pour les 13, 19 et 20 mai, 2, 3 et 4 juin 2017 : groups of 10 people!

13ème Festival “Musique au Pays de Pierre Loti” Saint-Pierre d’Oléron 20th to 27th May (more)

Scènes de Territoire Bressuire  31st May  (more)

“Une passion qui donne des ailes” Niort open until 31st May  (more)6fdf8c6c4b66f051b24cea37781cfdc0

What’s on in Poitou-Charentes April 2017


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Here is a selection of some of the events on this month in the area previously known as Poitou-Charentes..  Harlem Globetrotters sounds interesting…. whether you like basketball or not I expect it will be quite entertaining.  


April 2017

Terri’Thouars Blues: Thouars: 29th March to 3rd April (more)

Fussion dance: Michael Jackson, Coldplay, Queen !!!! Niort 3rd April (more)

ATELIER CHOCOLAT Chocolaterie Letuffe, 2 rue du bourg,16730 TROIS PALIS 5th April (more)

Bach a Paques; Saint Maixent L’Ecole: (date not available yet) (more)

Marathons/half Marathons LES FOULEES DE LEOVILLE CHEZ SOULARD 17500 Leoville 9th April (more) check web site for others.

Festival 3 jours d’avril, Saint Martin de Ré 13th to 15th April (more)

Festival des Cerf-volant – Kite festival: Chatellion Plage: 15th 16th and 17th April (more)

Spectacle Vamp In The Kitchen, Lencloitre  15th and 16th  April (more)
20ÈME FOIRE DE PRINTEMPS ET VIDE GRENIER Champ de foire du Mas Félix16500 CONFOLENS 16th April (more)

Médiévales à Nouaillé-Maupertuis 15/16th April  (more)

Harlem Globetrotters, Niort 22nd April 2017 (more)   Trotting to France!

Foire at Rouillac: 27th April (more)


What’s on in Poitou-Charentes; March 2017


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March, already, so Spring is finally here. Lots of stuff on this monthterri-017-aff-202x300



Jour de Carnival; Poitiers: 8th March (more)

Printemps des Poets; Niort: 4th to 19th March (more)

Concert; La Belle Bleue, Le Chateau D’Oleron 10th March (more)

Reggae The Mighty Diamonds, Angouleme La Nef 10th March (more) check site for other gigs.

Venitien Carnival; Etaules: 12th March (more)

La Tete dans les Nuages – magic, circus,arts, and dance for youngsters; Angouleme; 11th to 18th March (more) 

Concert Best Of Floyd à Chasseneuil du Poitou le 14 mars 2017 (more)

Marathons and Half Marathons at various locations, Bressuire, La Rochelle, St Eutrope,and Taillebourg, throughout March (more) 

Celtic Legends; Bressuire:17th March (more)

Concert, Wax Tailor Angouleme La Nef  23rd March (more)

Terri’Thouars Blues: Thouars: 30th March to 2nd April (more)

Rochefort Pacifique cinema (L’Archipel des Marquaise); Rochefort 29th March to 2nd April. (more)

Foire at Rouillac: 27th March

Journées des métiers d’art en France,    Cognac 31st March to 2nd of April (more) This is a world wide event with lots of venues, Cognac is just one : check web site for others.

What’s on in Poitou-Charentes ????? not 100% sure


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As you probably know one of the features of my Poitou-Charentes blog is an extensive list of what is on.cropped-0212

( The Comprehensive guide to what’s on in Poitou-Charentes )

It has become one of the most visited pages on the site, though the page about snakes still seems to top the list !

At this time of year I try to compile the list for the forthcoming year, already it is getting quite a few hits because no doubt people are planning their year or their holidays and would  like to be in the region when certain events are on.

However it does amaze me how many events which take place every year at more or less the same time have not yet got their 2017 agenda on the internet. I have just been trying to prepare the events for August 2017 and some quite major events still only have their 2016 web page available.   For example the Confolens music festival which has in this year its 60th aniversary still has 2016!!!  If you type into google then this is what you get

Surely this does nothing to enhance their visitor numbers, maybe the Confolens  event is so popular that they do not care, but for other less popular venues I would have thought having their programme on the internet by the beginning of the year was a must.

What’s on in Poitou-Charentes; February 2017


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 This is some of what is on in Poitou-Charentes in February….  it seems like I have listed quite a lot. It is always worth checking out the tourist sites for the individual departments. I have put links to these on the page which covers all the events for the year  Some of these sites are easier to use than others but isn’t that always the case.

February 2017


Spectacle Mozart Group, Saint Benoit 2nd Feb  2017 (more)

Labulkrack; Bressuire;  Le theatre de Bressuire 4th Feb (more)

Anne Paceo; La Rochelle, La Coupe d’Or 2nd Feb (more) 

Spectacle Olivier De Benoist, Vouneuil Sous Biard 3rd Feb (more)
Concert The Wackids , Vouneuil Sous Biard   4th Feb (more)
Orchestre des Champs-Élysées  Saintes, Abbaye aux Dames, 8th Feb (more) Check web site for other events
Stage de musique de chamber, Saintes, Abbaye aux Dames, 6th to 10th Feb (more) 
LE TOUR DE VALSE d’après la BD de Pellejero & Lapière;  Ruffec 10th Feb (more)
Foire de Truffles: Villebois-lavalette : 11th February (more)
Flea market, Angouleme 11th Feb (more)
Festival Escale d’humour  Royan 11th to 13th Feb (more)

Dire de Monde Saints, 14th to 19th Feb (more)

ULYSSE NUIT GRAVEMENT À LA SANTÉ Cie le Cri de l’armoire Ruffec 16th Feb (more)

Trail de Val d’Egray,  Marathon and Half Marathon, Champdeniers 26th Feb (more)

Mimosa Festival: Saint-Trojan-les Bains: 17th,18th and 19th Feb (more) 2days earlier than last year is this global warming?   ‘No such thing’…. D Trump.mimosador2015

Festival International d’Echecs de Rochefort – Chess championship: Rochefort: 18th to 24th Feb (more)

Journées des Moulins Vivants du Bandiat, de La Tardoire, de l’Argence et de la Colle. 25th and 26th Feb (more) Check web site for which Windmills are open.Moulin

Foire de Truffles: Jarnac: every Tuesday morning in February (more)

Ancient Weapons Fair: Poitiers: 26th Feb (more)

Carnival, Les Mathes 26th Feb (more)

Film; FLEUR DE TONNERRE  Blanzac 28th Feb (more) Check web site for other films.

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


What’s on in Poitou-Charentes; January 2017


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Sorry this is a bit late but there are a few days left so if you are looking for something to do this weekend then this might help. Future months are now being worked on and will be available soon. January and February are truffle months, why not visit one of the markets…. you can breathe in and smell them without having to buy…. if you want to buy then take plenty of money. mmarchy-aux-truffes2

January 2017

Retro mobile Club; Cognac Chateaubernard ;21st and 22nd Jan. (more)

Jazz a  Saint Sat: Saint Saturnin 13th to 22nd January (more)

Oiron Expostion; Oirion; 25th January (more)

Festival International de la Bande Dessinée: Angouleme: 26th January to 29th January (more)

CONCERT : LA FEMME + 1ERE PARTIE: La Rochelle 26th January (more)

La Belle Afrik: La Rochelle 27th January (more)

Marche au Truffles; Vilebois-Lavallette  28th Jan (more)

Foire de Truffles: Jarnac every Tuesday morning through January/February (more)



Harmonica solos


Now I know that some of my friends in Poitou-Charentes and for that matter some of my Westfield college friends are aficionados of good Rhythm and Blues/Rock/Blues music.img1450110445192-168-1-139

I was flicking through the channels as you do, especially when you are home alone, because my wife is away doing the decent thing by taking her 93 year old mother to Lanzarote for a bit of sun…anyway I came across some old footage of Culture club doing Karma Chameleon, and it is good.. but what elevates it is the harmonica.

That set me thinking and for such a simple instrument it is responsible for some of the most brilliant tracks and here are a few. You can click on the links to hear them.

Led Zeppelin   Bring it on home   

Paul Butterfields Blues Band   Everything’s going to be alright

Beatles     Love me do  now this is a fairly average song, very much of its time but without the harmonic it would be quite poor and who knows without it, it might have been the end for the Beatles???

So there are just 3 well four if you include Boy George and I am sure you will have your favourites, but the point is the addition of a bit of Harp invariably improves a song.