From 22°C to -1°C

autumn 2015 Beaulieu

Autumn dawn in the chestnut grove


From 22°C last week and glorious sunshine, through several days of grey to today… again glorious sunshine but -1°C.  Yesterday after a brief conversation with my neighbour which went along the lines of “Its cold today” “yes but at least it’s not raining”…  I carried on the morning walk with Siena to see a beautiful rainbow (ending at our house, but I still haven’t found the pot of gold) with a very dark backdrop and shortly followed by a deluge that had both myself and Siena sheltering in a woodshed. Deciding to carry on, Siena, who is usually busy chasing birds and the like just sat down and just looked at me with an expression that clearly said “Take me home, NOW”. Rain and wind meant a wintry return home – thank heaven winter is at least short.

autumn 2015 Beaulieu Rainbow




Some time ago I entered a photo competition with three themes; Scenes of Life, Countryside and Heritage. My heritage entry has been shortlisted (from over 200 down to 30), public voting will decide which three (one from each category) will win. As soon as voting starts I’ll let you know the link. There was an opening or “vernissage” (not that any photos were varnished!) that we went along to. The attenders were mostly the participants and all were French (ok this is France after all but at least 35% local residents are English, though no so much in large town I guess). The occasion of the competition was to mark the joining of two regions or “Pays” (Pays de la Meteorite, and Pays de Vienne-Glane). There was a meeting of some few hundred residents as far as I could count once they exited the meeting and joined us photographers. I think the French have a greater sense of civic duty than the British, I don’t remember anything like those numbers at similar meetings in the UK. Anyway they were looking and voting for the entries in the completion so I am going to need your support. This is the photo…

Rochechouart -  2014-04-21T10:46:36

Rochechouart – 2014-04-21T10:46:36

Chestnuts and taxation

Chestnuts again? They are a big thing around these parts, the centre of Chalus has a metal sculpture of a chestnut in its casing about 2 metres across. Dournazac, nearby, has its annual Journées de la Châtaigne (days of the chestnut) late on the last weekend of October. It’s one of the biggest local fêtes with stalls spreading around many streets.  Anything you can think of and more involving chestnuts; raw, blanched, peeled, pureed, creamed, flour, roasted, in bread, cakes and sausages. As for the sausage stalls, there are sausages made of kangaroo, ostrich as well as local creatures such as boar, venison and, of course pig, lamb and beef plus fig, walnut and blood. Horse and donkey make an appearance too.


Donkey (Ane) sausage anyone?

Our camera club met for the visit to Dournazac and set ourselves the task of photographing shadows. We started out as a group of 6 and Delia and I gradually lost everyone until around lunchtime we decided to go home before we lost each other or Siena.

Chestnuts may be seasonal but so, it seems, are taxes. Income tax was earlier, in spring, and even though we didn’t earn enough last year to pay any, we still got a 35€ refund! That being said however, there are other taxes, 25% of everything we earn goes on social contributions and then there’s Taxe Foncieres (tax on the building), Taxe d’Habitation (tax on living in said building) and a new one CFE (tax on working in the same building).  These are flat rate amounts which total about 10% of our joint income (35% including social even when not earning enough to pay income tax).  An article in a French web site I read recently talked about the 50% of households not liable for income tax and being concerned about the economic inbalance this caused to the nation. Perhaps my French wasn’t up to it but perhaps they (Daily Mail – UK or Perth J style) missed the point that this meant that 50% of households didn’t earn enough! Ah well, it’s the price one pays for good cheap wine and the ready availability of fine chestnuts, I guess. In fairness, now I am 60 (not that I can believe it, being 60 that is) we won’t pay Taxe d’habitation again; and when I am 70, apparently I’ll get 100€ off Taxe Foncieres so there’s that to look forward to!  Also we currently enjoy some glorious weather, sunshine and temperatures up to 25°C