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June 2016
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Have we triggered the end of the EU ?

1eu-flagIt will take two years to unpick ourselves from Europe and it will be done calmly and logically. There might be a change in UK Government, but in the immediate future there will be a change of people at the top, certainly by the Conservative conference in October.

In two years it  should save the UK £350 million a week – but this will have to be spend on supporting UK industries, infrastructure, services and the people who have benefitted from EU grants. There might be something left, but that’ll be spent on unpicking EU regulations and remaking UK laws and regulations. So there certainly won’t be enough left to build one hospital a week!

History in the making – determined by a 72% turnout, and it is a UK decision where the Cities voted to Inremain and the Shires to leave. 52% in favour of leaving with 48% for remaining. Out

The media is reporting the magnitude of the decision for the UK and for Europe. Presently the pound has dropped so that’s less Euros in our pocket – but only for the moment hopefully . . .

How Europe will treat now the UK will, to a greater or lesser extent, pave the way for other countries to leave and so shrink the EU. But who will be first? Sweden, Austria, Denmark, Norway, Spain, Finland . . . or even France and Germany. We all recognise that France does things their own way . . . so there’d be no change there !

And with Scotland’s resolute to remain will it now be demanding another devolution referendum? Will Northern Ireland demand devolution? London also voted to remain so will it also demand devolution?

But let’s get on with our lives end look forward to the change that will come. We will never know if it was the right decision.

For the numerate amongst us: 33,577,342 ballot papers submitted, with votes in favour of remaining in 16,141,241, and votes for leaving the EU 17,410,742




C’est fini . . . by 7am Friday

by John Greenshields, Head of Political Communications Quatro Public Relations

Bon jour!

By 7am on Friday it should all be over. Forty miles from where MP Jo Cox was tragically killed, the results will be announced by Jenny Watson in Manchester Town Hall.

After a long night, unusually without any proper exit polling, the campaigns will have ceased. For the first few hours after polls close, the EU will be in the eye of the storm: quiet, but not calm, with no way of knowing which way it is going to turn.

Once the results start coming in, the work will begin to either remove the UK from the EU or Cameron from Downing Street, or both. Will it be a bright new dawn or will clouds gather?

Whilst nobody can claim to know what will happen in the event of Brexit, most agree that there will be at least a short term shock to the economy. How short and how shocking is a matter of perspective, but there are unlikely to be any areas of the economy that remain untouched.

The new Mayor of London may find that delivering affordable housing and stemming foreign ownership of new homes is difficult with sterling fluctuating wildly. Any reduction in the value of land is likely to put the squeeze on providing affordable housing, not something voters will be expecting.

Voters may also not be expecting another trip to the ballot box any time soon, but an incoming leader of the Tory party may very well think that an election is the best way to clear the air and assert their credentials, just as Brown didn’t do in 2007.

The results will also make clear geographical divisions: London will vote remain, the south east leave. Scotland and Wales will seek to remain, England (as a whole) probably leave. The south west and north east may well cancel each other out, but the north west might struggle to balance out a strong leave vote in east Anglia. Manufacturing areas in the midlands have been courted by Cameron, but has he done enough to secure the vote he want?

Turnout is going to be the focus in these final few hours, each side drawing up maps, printing off phone numbers and preparing for the final push.

Whatever the result, we will provide the insight you need to understand the politics of planning and make sense of an uncertain situation.

Merci beaucoup mon ami, bonne chance!

Le Tour 2016, Chocks away on 2nd July

Tour de France 2016

Running from Saturday July 2nd to Sunday July 24th 2016, the 103th Tour de France will be made up of 21 stages and will cover a total distance of 3,519 kilometres.

Screen Shot 2016-06-19 at 10.00.33These stages have the following profiles:

  • 9 flat stages
  • 1 hilly stage
  • 9 mountain stages including 4 summit finishes (Andorre Arcalis, Mont Ventoux, Finhaut-Emosson et Saint-Gervais Mont Blanc)
  • 2 individual time trial stages
  • 2 rest days

16 unseen sites and stage cities

Utah Beach Sainte-Marie-du-Mont, Saint-Lô, Arpajon-sur-Cère, L’Isle-Jourdain, Lac de Payolle, Vielha Val d’Aran, Escaldes-Engordany, Bourg-Saint-Andéol, La Caverne du Pont-d’Arc, Villars-les-Dombes Parc des Oiseaux, Culoz, Moirans-en-Montagne, Berne, Finhaut-Emosson, Megève and Chantilly

Screen Shot 2016-06-19 at 10.02.30

In July, the first Yellow Jersey of the 2016 Tour de France will be awarded to the winner of the stage between Mont-Saint-Michel and Utah Beach. Whatever happens after this sprint, there will be a French touch on the podium…

The 2016 summer collection from le Coq Sportif for the category leader jerseys of the Tour de France has previewed a bit of a tribute to the exceptional start that awaits the riders in the prestigious setting of Mont-Saint-Michel. During the past two editions, the peloton set off from Yorkshire in England, then Utrecht in the Netherlands.

The return to France has inspired the Tour’s equipment supplier to add an elegant and discreet blue-white-red border on all the category leader jerseys, beginning with the Yellow Jersey. The stripe has been affixed along the back seam, to preserve the technical qualities of the shirts. The materials and the cut are adapted to each area: the seamless sleeves are made from flexible elastane and eliminate all pressure points for better circulation in the arms; a half-zip provides improved air circulation; and there is an ultra-breathable ventilation panel along the entire back . . . but will it help the French gain success we ask ???

Last year’s result

  •  Christopher FROOME   (TEAM SKY)

Web sites

Ageing in harmony: why the third act of life should be musical


It’s never too late to pick up a musical instrument. In fact there are many reasons why it’s a great idea, particularly in old age.

We normally hear about reasons to increase music education for children, and for good cause. There are many cognitive and social benefits to playing an instrument that aid a child’s development. Consequently, as an older adult, there are long-term effects of having taken part in these musical activities, as it can limit cognitive decline.

Even a small amount of training can have long lasting effects. But this doesn’t mean that those who have never played an instrument in childhood have missed the boat. The ageing brain is plastic: that means it is able to learn new things all the time. So, should we consider an increase in music programs for those in the third age?

Playing music as a workout for the brain

Learning to play a musical instrument is an extremely complex task that involves the coordination of multiple sensory systems within the brain. Many instruments require precise coordination between the eyes, the ears and the hands in order to play a musical note. Using the resulting sound as feedback, the brain prepares for the next note and so it continues. The act of music-making is quite a brain workout.

The relationship between the motor and auditory parts of the brain is strengthened when physically playing music. This may explain why adults trained to play certain melodies have an enhanced representation of music in the brain compared to adults only trained to listen to the same melodies.

As playing music involves many different parts of the brain, even a short-term program for older adult musical novices can lead to generalised improvements for cognitive ability.

Music as a workout for the fingers

Learning to play an instrument such as the piano involves many complex finger sequencing and coordination tasks. As such, it can be a great test-bed for learning to move fingers independently.

The creativity of music and the enjoyment people take in playing is particularly important for rehabilitation, as it encourages sustained practice leading ultimately to higher benefits.

It’s thanks to this that piano lessons have been used to successfully retrain hand function for patients who have had a stroke. The immediate auditory feedback from each finger movement is thought to help adults reduce errors in movement and work towards moving at a more regular pace.

Music training is an excellent environment to train cognitive and motor abilities, both in the contexts of child development and for rehabilitation. The question for older adults is this: can learning a musical instrument not only put the brakes on cognitive and motor decline, but actually allow development of new skills?

Older adults can improve their motor learning – that is, they can improve their rate of learning new things – and the best environments for brain training are ones that are novel and flexible.

Of course many activities can be novel such as juggling or knitting, but the advantages of learning an instrument can be found in the breadth of skills required to play. At Western Sydney University, we are currently investigating how piano training can be used with healthy older adults to improve their general hand function in unrelated daily tasks.

Music for health and wellbeing

Often, the worry is that playing an instrument will be too difficult for older adults to manage. On the contrary, learning to play an instrument can provide a great sense of achievement and satisfaction.

Older adults relish the opportunity to learn something new. Cogntive benefits aside, music can also be a great social activity for older adults, facilitating social bonding and decreasing feelings of loneliness or isolation.

Music programs are linked to improvements measured in markers of the body’s immune system such as the presence of antibodies and vital signs (heart rate/blood pressure).

It’s suggested that this is a consequence of decreases in stress that can happen when taking part in musical activities. However, further research is needed to determine exactly how this relationship functions.

Music for all

It’s vital to understand how we can aid the current generation of older adults, in terms of both health and personal enjoyment. With the myriad benefits provided by playing a musical instrument, it would seem beneficial to have a wider variety of musical activities on offer to the older generation.

Wouldn’t it be great if the third age wasn’t viewed as a final descent from some mid-life peak, but some new act of life that opens up these opportunities? Perhaps we should give older adults the chance to develop in ways they could never have imagined before.

Activities such as singing in a choir, or playing the piano can provide this opportunity, as well as offering many general benefits to health and wellbeing.

So whether it’s in independent living, retirement or assisted care, let’s make the third act of life a musical one!



Republished from The Conversation June 2016

Author   is Research Lecturer in Music Perception and Cognition, Western Sydney University, she is currently involved in the project Music, Mind and Dexterity at Western Sydney University.

Partners Western Sydney University provides funding as a member of The Conversation AU.


On 24th June there’s a meeting in Brussels . . . post UK vote

The heads of the three main political institutions of the European Union will meet in Brussels next Friday, June 24, when the result of Britain’s referendum on whether to leave the bloc will be known.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, the EU chief executive, will host a meeting with European Council President Donald Tusk, who chairs summits of EU leaders, and European Parliament President Martin Schulz, a Commission spokesman told a news briefing on Friday.

Also attending would be Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, whose government holds the chair of EU ministerial councils.

The spokesman gave no details but EU officials have said previously that such a meeting was planned to take stock of the result of the June 23 referendum and prepare a common response to it.

published by Chanel News Asia

Chaos In France?

by Daniel Brewer  Healey Fox

France is certainly receiving bad press at the moment with strikes, football hooliganism and terrorism. Is this a place you would like to call home? Well, I say a resounding YES.

For me strikes are no problem, sometimes a little inconvenient but constant proof that the French will take matters in their own hands, they are passionate about anything they feel is unjust and this passion is what overflows into all aspects of their lives and is why so many of us love France so much. Their passion for good, quality food, honestly produced, for wonderful wines, for family life, for traditional values. Aren’t these the reasons that so many of us choose to live in France?

As for football hooliganism, it’s a short term problem but one that does highlight the fairly rough way that the police deal with any behaviour that is antisocial. You can argue that the policing is too heavy handed but at least they are there to protect the innocent bystanders.

And then there is terrorism and we may all have different views on what provoked the attacks on Paris and this week’s attack on alogo police officer and his wife but we have to accept that terrorism is part of all our lives these days. The reassurance for me that as France is a country so much larger than the UK and one can easily be a long way away from likely targets!

Without a doubt it is the vastness of the country that appeals to so many Brits who choose to live in France and the huge majority of them do choose a small town or rural way of life where all that we love about the country continues to flourish. Added to this the fact that nothing ever seems so bad when the sun shines and you have the reason why, despite the bad press France is getting, we find that UK buyers continue to head out to France.

Attached and below are details of a wonderful typical character house with gites, a property in high demand by Brits in one of their favourite parts of France.




Magificent Charentaise With Two Gites

€322400   Ref No: HF59480

Charentaise House with 2 furnished Gites; Managers Cottage; Barn; Pool; ¾ Acre Mature Garden, 3 Receptions; 7 Beds; 3 Bathrooms; 5 WC’s; Dressing Room; Barn; Office; Games Room; Approx. 300m2 habitable space in excellent decorative order; Energy Efficient; Mature Walled Gardens; In-ground Pool; Potential for further Gites.
Not far from the beautiful Lakes of the Haute Charente, this impressive Stone Charentaise Country House is hidden away within a gorgeous, walled, Mature Garden at the edge of a peaceful village and is surrounded by lovely rolling countryside; it is a real haven of tranquillity! 2 market towns and several larger villages can be reached well within a 10min radius and both the historic city of Angouleme (TGV) & Limoges Airport are only c30mins away.

Book Review: Toby’s Tails – Toby Visits Chats du Quercy

by Kristi Domke


In this very special book Toby, and his human Mum and Dad, go on holiday to the Pyrenees region of France to visit Chats du Quercy rescue centre, in Miramont-du-Quercy.Screen Shot 2016-06-15 at 17.56.04

Chats du Quercy opened in 2010, and is unique in France in that it is the only Adoption centre solely dedicated to helping abandoned cats. Run by feline behaviourist Lynn Stone, and her husband Ron, over the years it has helped, and saved literally thousands of cats and kittens, an average of 350 per year.

Through the interaction of Toby the Border Collie, and Billy, Chats du Quercy’s feline mascot, the reader will discover the rescue stories behind some of the cats and kittens who have stayed at this very special place, and the importance of responsible pet ownership.

This book is a tribute to the hard work and dedication of all Chats du Quercy’s helpers, volunteers and supporters, without whom Chats du Quercy wouldn’t exist.

50% of the profit from every book/eBook sold will go to them to support their work, and projects in the years to come…

What reviewers are saying

As a true animal lover, I loved the idea of this book “Toby’s Tails – Toby Visits Chats du Quercy” — tales of rescues, and celebrating the human-animal bond. This is a story about Toby the Border Collie, who goes on holiday with his Mum and Dad, to a very special place called Chats du Quercy rescue centre in France, that has helped and saved thousands of cats and kittens.

On his visit, Toby meets special friends Oggie the dog and Billy, Chats du Quercy’s feline mascot, who show Toby around the rescue. With lighthearted humor and heartfelt sincerity, Billy tells it the way it is—or rather the way it should be—when it comes to our understanding and interactions with animals, specifically the cats living at and rehomed by Chats du Quercy.

With a profound message that everyone needs to hear—the more we know about the animals in our world, the better we care for them. Toby learns the tales of several of the cats at Chats du Quercy, once homeless cast-offs that were living on the streets or in the wild; cats that people ignored, or worse, abused. But at some point, fate stepped in and changed the lives of these animals. These are but a few of the stories of the lucky ones, rescued from bad situations and given a place to stay.

The magic of this book is that it has an entertaining, instructional and compassionate message about a rescue known for helping animals with which we live and share this planet. So many dedicated people give so much of their time and energy to helping cats, dogs and other animals in need, however don’t have enough information to truly maximize their efforts. Chats du Quercy is known for their compassionate care and ensuring they find their forever homes. And what’s even better is that 50% of the profit from every book sold will go to support their work.

If you love to read books about cats and you want to help cats, this book is for you. There are so many cats that need to be rescued. Reading this book may even inspire you to rescue, take action or become involved in a charity like Chats du Quercy.


Available from all Amazon stores worldwide

in Paperback:

and Kindle format:

This new book, and all the others in the series will be available at the Chats du Quercy’s Hot Moggies event on 3rd July. Toby the Border Collie, star of the series, and I, will be at the event and I am happy to sign and dedicate the books.

Screen Shot 2016-06-15 at 17.57.25



Susan Keefe

Author of the Toby’s Tails series of children’s books.

Driving in France

WELCOME_TO_FRANCETake your family and a car across the channel to France and explore the country via the excellent network of roads. Remember traffic drives on the right. Motorways (autoroutes) bear the prefix ‘A’ and some of these will be toll roads (autoroutes à péage). National roads (routes nationales) are marked ‘N’ while minor roads are classed as ‘D’ roads. And beware of traffic entering from the right – they have priority.

There are certain laws you need to know about before driving in France:

If your sat-nav is able to detect speed camera locations, leave it at home. If you are found to be driving with one of these in your car, even in the boot and regardless of whether it’s turned on or not, you can be fined 1500 euros.

You must have reflective  jackets IN THE CAR. You have to be able to reach them without getting out of the car. One per occupant please and wear them in the event of an emergency/breakdown


A sign you’ll never see in England. Give all cyclists a wide berth of at least 1.5m, and not just during The Tour de France !

Give cyclists a wide berth. 1.5 metres is the required distance. Sensible really because if the cyclist falls flat you won’t run over their head.

The drink drive limit in France is 50mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood. Bear in mind this is significantly lower than the UK limit of 80mg per 100ml of blood. Our best advice is not to drink alcohol at all if you are driving.

Drivers are prohibited from using headphones and headsets (any device attached to the ear) when driving. This regulation applies to all drivers and riders and covers devices used for phone calls as well as for listening to music/radio etc. Bluetooth or integrated systems in a motorcycle helmet are still permitted.

Eating at the wheel. There have been reports of a new law specifically prohibiting drivers from eating or applying make-up at the wheel. In fact this is not new, and there is no specific law to this effect. Eating/drinking etc. at the wheel is already covered under the more general French equivalent of our ‘Driving without due care and attention’ (article R.412-6 of the Code de la Route).

Breathalisers. In January 2013  the French government announced that the implementation of the sanction for drivers not carrying a breathalyser – a fine of €11 – has been postponed indefinitely. So theoretically you are still required to carry a self-test breathalyser when driving in France but there is no current legislation demanding a fine for non-compliance. The original official announcement stated that one unused, certified breathalyser must be produced showing the French certification mark NF. Carrying two single-use breathalysers will ensure that if one is used or damaged, you will still have a spare to produce. The breathalyser produced has to be in date – single-use breathalysers normally have a validity of twelve months.

French roads have variable speed limits that depends on weather conditions. In dry weather rural 2- or 3-lane roads are limited to 90 km/h, 4-lane expressways (in rural areas) 110 km/h, and highways (in rural areas) 130 km/h. When raining, the limits are lowered to (respectively) 80, 100, and 110 km/h. Urban speed limit of 50 km/h is unaffected by weather. The general speed limit is lowered to 50 km/h on all roads in the fog or other low-visibility conditions if visibility is under 50 meters.

Parking near a pedestrian crossing. Not nearer than 5m please, there’s another law for this one.

Police like to stop unsuspecting Brits as they drive out of a ferry terminal . . . You have been warned.

tailgating11And a word about ‘tailgating‘. French drivers who want to overtake you won’t flash their lights or indicate . . . they will tailgate you and get so close you freak. Avoid freaking and pull over and let them through . . . it’s the French way ! ! !

Book a cheap ferry to France from England, Ireland, North Africa and more

Screen Shot 2016-06-15 at 00.01.57You can use to book ferries to France from the UK and more. We have all the major companies and all the major routes to choose from. Using you will always get a great deal on your ferry. See below for timetables and the latest special offers

About France

France is the most visited country in the world, and with many attractions and sights to amuse and entertain the visitor, it’s easy to see why. From prominent landmarks such as Paris’ Eiffel Tower and L’Arc de Triomphe, to the spectacular scenery and coastline of Western and Southern France, with its many vineyards and tranquil beaches. The French Alps boast stunning mountain ranges and appeals to those seeking winter sports such as skiing and snowboarding.

Booking your ferry

Booking you ferry couldn’t be easier with Just type your destination into the form above and compare all ferries to France on one easy screen. France is, without doubt, the most popular ferry destination for UK tourists and on we offer all the major ferry companies for you to choose from so you can find the best price.

Before you book, it’s always worth checking out our latest special offers. works hard to find the latest and best prices for ferries to France and puts them all in one place. This means that you don’t have to visit all the different websites to find the cheapest ferries to France.

Screen Shot 2016-06-15 at 00.02.09

Snap-up the best value Eurostar tickets

New digital hub offers best deals for flexible travellers

by Nick Mercer Commercial Director, Eurostar

Eurostar, the high-speed rail service connecting the UK and mainland Europe, has today announced the launch of an innovative new service – Eurostar Snap – where passengers with flexibility on their travel time can access the best available Eurostar fares.

Screen Shot 2016-06-14 at 23.50.19By logging on to the new online service through Facebook, passengers select their travel date and destination specifying a morning or afternoon departure. Then 48 hours before travel, Eurostar will confirm the exact time of the train.

Snap is designed to provide quick and simple access to the lowest Eurostar fares, offering up to the minute availability from any mobile device, tablet or desktop.  Bookings must be at least 7 days before departure and tickets to Paris and Brussels are now on sale at £25 one-way*.  

“Our research has shown that there is a strong appetite for spontaneous travel  at great prices.  With state-of-the-art trains boasting  20% more capacity, as well as wifi and onboard entertainment, travellers with a flexible schedule can look forward to a spur of the moment trip at the lowest fare.” 

Screen Shot 2016-06-14 at 23.55.19With free travel for children under four, a generous two-bag luggage allowance plus hand luggage and over 300 hours of onboard entertainment and wifi free of charge, Eurostar is the ideal way to travel to Europe.

For more information or to book Eurostar tickets visit

Expat Dating have been online for one year now and have a SPECIAL OFFER of 10 Euro membership offer to celebrate !

427 ExPat Dating Nov