Thursday, 25 August 2011


Frelons, or hornets in english are large wasps. They are about double the size of a normal wasp, with a sting to match. The sting is very painful and if the person shows an allergic reaction has been known to be fatal.
Therefore when the number of frelons around the bar started to increase we were concerned. We found that there was what appeared to be a colony living nesting above the ceiling of the customer toilets. Fortunately none were entering the building but we still needed to get them sorted.
Help was at hand with the wonderfully named Deratisation man (pest controller).
For only €80 he would come and sort out out nest.
He arrived yesterday evening, dressed himself up like Stig's blue cousin and off up onto the roof. Ripping tiles up he was soon surrounded by frelons as he exposed the nest. Flashing the lance of his spray tank like a fencer in full flow, he sprayed the air and frelons crashed to the ground

The nest he broke up and it filled a standard size bucket. An amazing piece of engineering, perfectly formed and almost symmetrical made by the hornets collecting wood and bark which they chew, mix with saliva and then form into the honeycomb shaped nest. It is a work of art and shows what a community can do when working.

The nest contained larvea and also pods from which baby frelons were part emerging. Watching a "birth" was amazing as a "baby" about 3 cms long emerged complete with sting. It seemed only fair to stamp on it!!

Thursday, 18 August 2011

My French

I was sitting outside the bar the other morning when a lady came over and started talking, in French. She asked about the bar and I tried to explain that we had been here for a year and that previously the bar had been closed for three years. She seemed to understand and then asked about "Anne". Anne was the previous occupant of the bar who left in unfortunate circumstances after her husband died.
I told the lady that "Desole Anne et mort" . The lady seemed very shocked by the news and went off to find her sister in law and tell her, I thought it a bit of an over reaction considering the lady had left Champniers 3 years ago but who am I to say.
About a quarter of an hour later a local gent, Daniel, arrived to join the ladies for lunch. They sat down and whispered for a couple of minutes. I went over to the table with the menu ( Jeanne was away at the airport dropping the kids off) and Daniel looked at me in a very strange way and said " jeanne - mort? "
Non Non I said, Anne et mort, the vieux commercant, Jeanne est a la areoport

The look of relief was instant. Jeanne was ok. I am glad we got it sorted so quickly. We had seen Daniel on Sunday evening and he must have been shocked that not only had Jeanne died so quickly but that the bar was still open and I was outside reading a book as if nothing had happened.

I am sure that the lady said "Anne" and not "Jeanne" but who knows. I think in future I will stick to desole je ne parle pas francais


I wrote last year about the importance to the village associations of the annual brocante. This is the village boot fair, meal and fireworks that happens in Champniers on the second Sunday in August. The expectation is that the weather will be favourable.
This year was a disaster. Despite warm and dry weather last week and hot and dry weather forecast for this week, the Sunday in the middle was forecast as rain all day.
We had hoped that this was a forecast in the Michael Fish tradition but it wasn't and rain it did.
The brocante, about 80 stalls last year had about 10 this year. The stalls themselves, manned by people sitting in steamed up cars and vans were covered over to protect the stock so nobody could see what was for sale anyway ( about as much use as a stripper with their clothes on)
As there were few stalls, although plenty of visitors came, they didn't stay around to drink and eat at the association funding buvette.
At the bar we had a busy day. After being overrun on brocante day last year, we elected to pass the catering over to our caterer partner and she roasted a whole pig in the courtyard and then sold Hog Roast with salads and dessert whilst we sold the drinks to go with it. This had been fairly widely advertised and despite the weather all of the pig was sold between 1pm and 4pm.

After the downpours and thunder of the afternoon, thankfully the weather cleared late in the afternoon and the evening events of moules frites followed by fireworks were able to go ahead. About 200 people ate the moules in the school yard and this at least gave the associations some income so their day wasn't a complete washout.

Again a village of only 350 people put on a superb firework display

We hope next year the weather supports the hard work done by the team and they get their financial rewards.

We had help over the last week from two sons, James and Greg and a friend Craig. Thank you guys for your help, we hope you enjoyed yourselves as well

Saturday, 6 August 2011

French Life The Sans Permis

For those of you who live or have travelled in France, you will know the Sans Permis. The name translates as Without Permit and is a type of mini car that can be driven by anyone over the age of 16 with no licence. This includes those people that have had a licence and lost it by drink driving, dangerous driving etc. ( Drivers born after 1988 have to have 3 hours instruction but no test)
These cars are small, slow and unbelievably annoying if you happen to be driving behind one. They also seem about as safe as walking down the middle of the road in the dark dressed all in black

The only advantage they seem to have is that they are so small you can park them almost anywhere, if that is, you can drive fast enough to get "anywhere"

The cars are mainly made by 3 manufactures, Aixam, Ligier and Microcar. They are all two seaters, can only weigh 300lbs, have a maximum speed of 28mph (45kms) and an engine of 5.6 hp.
They are kitted out as proper cars and can be fitted with alloys, cd plyers, electric windows and of course go faster stripes. They have names such as GTO, sport and RS.
The cars range in price from €9990 to €14990 which is unbelievable considering a Renault Twingo can be yours for €6990. They also make san permis vans and pick ups
You can hire one of these cars, providing you haven't got far to go for only €29.90 a day.
We had a call last week booking 3 for lunch. A san permis drew up and one man got out leaving the driver to go back and collect the 3rd person from their house 3 miles away. It took 25 minutes before they were all here! When they left the same happened with one of the party waiting over half an hour to be collected

Me, I'd rather walk