View Post

How the Bird Flu could affect us in the Vendée

Cases of HPAI serotype H5N8 virus or the Avian Flu, more commonly known as ‘the bird flu’, have recently been observed in Germany, the Netherlands, UK, Ireland, Denmark, Belgium and in recent days also in France. Because we are in migratory season – in autumn large groups of wild birds migrate south for the winter – France is on high alert. The Vendée is one of 45 departments on high alert listed in the government’s recently issued decree. What does this mean for our department and for our families? We’ve gathered some history, information, and reading materials. What is the Avian Flu? – Avian Influenza (or bird flu) is a highly contagious viral infection that can affect all birds and cause misc. issues depending on the pathogenicity of the virus and on the species. A Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) – strain H5N8 has been detected in wild birds, especially ducks, …

View Post

Putain de merde! Writing 2020 off of my shoulders

The last week of the year is normally a time of reflection for me as it probably is for many people across the globe. At the end of 2020, I vowed not to. Because… why? What was the point? What could I possibly reflect upon more than what I had already demanded of myself, or screamed into my own ears, or lie curled up in a ball worrying about? With the festive season safely behind us and both feet firmly planted into the new year – that’s 2021 in case you were wondering – it’s probably time to write the traumatic experience that was 2020, off of me, and to regain a sense of hope and even a sense of humour about it all. After all… aren’t people going through so much worse on any given day and what the hell do I have to be so sad about? Well. …

View Post

Why oyster shells should be recycled

Do you enjoy a meal of oysters on the half-shell at your favourite restaurant or at home? Recycling programs in coastal regions world-wide, including the Vendée, are popping up just about everywhere to ensure the shells are redeployed as a vital natural resource. Oyster shells provide the best material… to rebuild oyster reefs. As an oyster lover, contributing your household shells back to the reefs is probably the most responsible way to recycle them, but it’s certainly not the only way in which oyster shells can be re-used. What is an oyster shell recycling program – Oyster are a fundamental species for water filtration to maintain estuaries and healthy coastal ecosystems. As a result, oysters are also used to gather information on the overall health of the surrounding ecosystem. Healthy coastlines mean more tourism and water sports, which suggests that oyster reefs provide not only ecological, but also economical and recreational …

View Post

Choosing a Kiss. A memoir of racism in the life of a naïve immigrant

Since the murder of George Floyd, I have been painfully aware that blacking out my profile against racism is easy. Finding words to help in the fight, not so much. But give me a minute, I have a life-story to tell. I remember well the first Algerian family that moved into my grandmother’s neighborhood in the city. I must have been around 10 or 11 and could not understand why everybody called them “Turks”. They were not from Turkey. They were Algerian. The blanket term to cover all Middle Eastern and African families that moved in after the EU opened its borders was my earliest confrontation with racism. Born in ’69, I grew up quite sheltered in the Flanders countryside. I was a shy kid, but also curious. While the people … ‘some people’ … around me grumbled and spat about the influx of migrants in our little country, I …

View Post

Expatriate in lock-down France

In recent years, the thought has crossed my mind many times that if anything could keep me from my mother in Belgium, it might be World War III. Never had I considered a virus-related near-global quarantine. But the very first day of lock down in France my worst nightmare as an expat and as an only child, delivered a punch in the face: my mother, who lives independently, took a nasty tumble down the stairs in the middle of the night. It was the third time she would be in hospital this year, and the eighth time since my husband and I moved to Europe from the US after announcing she didn’t want to fly anymore, anywhere, let alone across the ocean. But when I think back in my expat life of twenty-eight years, it is only the third time that I have experienced a roller-coaster of stress as extreme …

View Post

Fireworks ban Vendée

On December 23rd 2019 Benoît Brocart, prefect of the Vendée, has issued a temporary ban on fireworks as a preventive measure for the end of year festivities next week that prohibits the port, transport and storage of fireworks and pyrotechnic articles. The decree stipulates that: The transfer, for consideration or not, and the use of all categories of fireworks, including firecrackers and pyrotechnic articles are prohibited for individuals throughout the department of Vendée from Monday, December 30, 2019 at 9:00 a.m. to Thursday January 2, 2020 at 9:00 a.m. In addition, the prefect also issued a decree for a temporary ban on buying “take-away” fuel during the same time period. The purchase and transport of any fuel by means of jerry cans, containers, cans or flasks is prohibited from Monday December 30, 2019 at 9 a.m. to Thursday January 2, 2020 at 9 a.m. throughout the Vendée department, with the …

View Post

Ode to the miracle of my parents

Cour du Miracle. Translated to English, it means ‘Miracle Court’. The legend has been told since the early 18th Century, a part of Vouvant’s history, if you will. Today, however, I am sharing my very own, personal story of the ‘Miracle Court’, and the café that occupies it: Café Cour du Miracle. I am the eldest child of its new owners, Sue and Dean Richards, and the 20th of October, 2019 marked eight months since Mum and Dad left Perth, Western Australia to start a new chapter in Vouvant, so I feel it is only fitting to reflect on their decision to migrate to France. Our family have called Perth home for the past 26 years, though whether Perth or another city, being lucky enough to have a family as close as ours, home could have been anywhere in the world. We immigrated from England to Australia in 1993 as …