JEREMY  JAMES

Marion Tempé writes:

1939 – 2018

We  are sad to have to announce the recent death of Jeremy James, founder of the OUS SW France Branch, and former chairman.

Son of a mining engineer, William Jeremy Layard James was born in what was then Southern Rhodesia, and spent his early years in South Africa. After attending Blundell’s School, he went up to Oriel in 1958 to read Greats.

A short spell with IBM was followed by an administrative career in several of the colleges forming part of London University.  On retirement, he and his wife Sara moved to the village of Dondas in Lot-et-Garonne.  They both became active participants in village life, as in that of the local British community.  His love of music led him, over the years, to acquire an extraordinary quantity of recordings and documents related to his favourite conductor, Carlo Maria Giulini, but his Oxford associates will remember him also as a keen connoisseur of organs and organ music. To some of us he confided his pride in his Huguenot ancestry and his glee whenever he found traces of it in local archives.

In 2007, and after what must have required a lot of ground work, he wrote to a large number of Oxford graduates living in south-west France, proposing that we could set up a branch of the Oxford University Society, as it was then known. On a chilly day in October, several of us met him and Sara in Moissac, where he presented his project in detail. His enthusiasm, dedication and obvious determination to overcome obstacles,  convinced any of us who had doubts about its viability that an OUS branch in south-west France was indeed possible. It soon took off with around 70 members.

He remained chairman until 2010, but continued to take an active part in the life of the branch, arranging lunches in the Lot-et-Garonne, and maintaining links with the OUBC which have enabled us for the past three years to enjoy meeting the crews during their winter training sessions in Le Temple-sur-Lot. Organizing this event gave him particular pleasure; sadly, illness caused him to miss the most recent one at the beginning of January.

He took the fortunes of the branch very much to heart, and he would certainly wish it to continue in the tradition of friendship and conviviality which he inspired from the start.

Donations may be made in his memory to « Cancer Support France Lot-et-Garonne » by cheque made payable to:

Cancer Support France Lot et Garonne
and sent to:
Cindy Sheppard, President CSF
L’Ancien Magasin
30-31 Rue du Bourg
Montastruc
47380
Lot et Garonne
France.

Greg Hawes: OUBC Lunch, 2018

Lunch with OUBC/OUWBC, La Commanderie, Temple-sur-Lot, 3rd January 2017

A brief personal account by Greg Hawes (Captain, CCC BC 1975)

We are fortunate that the OUBC come for their winter training session to the Lot valley and doubly fortunate that they meet with us.  Trebly so this year, as the men’s crews were joined by the OUWBC.

I met several members of the crews before lunch.  All I spoke with agreed that the facilities for training at Temple are very good.  This year the men’s crews include more undergraduates than in recent years, including several freshers.  The Women’s President, Katherine Erickson was a champion equestrian before turning to rowing “as a part of the whole Oxford experience”.  She told me the women are tall and wiry, rather than beefy like the men.  I suggested that, in rowing, technique and leverage are just as important as raw power and Katherine graciously assented.

At lunch I plonked myself down between two members of the OUBC staff and found I had luckily chosen a seat with Head Coach Sean Bowden on my right and Boatman Austen Dorey on my left.  Both were extremely informative.

With the Lot in early flood, conditions here are far from ideal for training this season.  I suggested the rough, fast-flowing river might be handy preparation for the rigours of the Thames Tideway and was gently told that at this stage of training better conditions are needed.  Avoiding debris has been a special challenge this year and repairs to blades, rudders and so on have kept Austen busy.

I asked about the impact of technology on modern boats (not having sat in an Eight since Oxford).  Having started by saying that apart from materials, things had not changed much in recent years, Austen told me that sensors in the gates can now provide real time feedback to a rower in training including his or her power of stroke, angle at the catch and recovery, as well as timing information.  As a former Stroke with a chronic tendency to overreach at the catch, I was enraptured.

The coxes were being taken aside after lunch for a video training session.  I knew of the importance of the role of the cox, especially in the Boat Race, where the line taken is so vital and the rivalry with the Cambridge boat is so intense.  Sean enlightened me further, explaining that one small mistake by the cox can cost the crew minutes of hard rowing beyond the “lactate threshold” to make up the lost distance.  Anyone who has rowed in competition knows what that feels like.

Time passed all too quickly.  The crews returned to their training and the staff to their duties.  I certainly hope the Oxford crews will keep returning to the Lot each winter.  Everyone was charming.  Their welcome to us is thanks to Jeremy James.  May he rest in peace.

Our 10th year AGM

Our AGM this year took place in the pleasant golfing environment of the Villeneuve-sur-Lot club, courtesy of our treasurer Pip. Marion has sent minutes to all members. Together with the reports presented, these record a successful year, changes to the committee, and a look forward to next year.  Nearly thirty members and partners also enjoyed a very agreeable luncheon in stimulating and convivial company. Thanks to Marion (her last AGM as secretary, but still with us on the committee) and Pip for the organisation.

Brilliant Biac

Member Tony Asseily and his wife Youmna gave 28 members and friends a wonderful welcome to their exceptional chateau on 1st September. We are quite well used to chateaux visits and degustations, but Tony’s urbane commentary and tour were both absorbing and informative even for the most accustomed: a demonstration of a long-term passion for wine and for the special terroir of the Biac amphitheatre, with its magnificent panorama over the Garonne.

IMG_0317

Their almost accidental acquisition of the Biac property echoed that of many who have come to settle in our region but at a grand level. Without the cachet of the main Bordeaux appellations, Biac’s unique situation renders it capable of the finest wines, a capability restored by the Asseily family.

20170901_121757_resized

With everything accomplished to the highest standard, we saw the timely westerly de-leafing of the vines – Biac has six varietals in less than ten hectares, possible because of the difference in soils. This allows the wine-makers to achieve the desired quality by varying considerably the amount of each used each year.

IMG_0323 IMG_3498 (2)

We came to understand the meticulous attention paid to every grape at the ‘right’ time (pips are tested!). Top-class wine-makers control the creation of each vintage. We heard how important malic fermentation takes place before bottling – most leave it to take place in the bottle.

A tour of the immaculate chai preceded our testing of Biac’s two main reds and white and the ‘party’ reds and white. A generous lunch (including Youmna’s chocolate cake!) followed and we left quite late in the afternoon with very special memories and great thanks to our hosts (and of course to Marion and Pip for organisation).

20170901_124925_resized

IMG_0302

 

 

 

 

 

(photos Tony, Pip, Branka and John).

A Brexit Lunch in the Gers

IMG_3456

On 12th August and courtesy of our member Simon Cole, long-serving former Chancellor and Gers-resident Lord Lawson gave a full dining room a lucid exposition of his view of Brexit.

He had been an early advocate of leaving the European Union, having experienced the way in which British membership impeded the reform of the British economy in the 1980s.

He was anxious to stress that, living permanently in France, this position was in no way anti-European but was simply against a political construct designed eventually to lead to a complete union. Britain had been half-in and half-out, having, in his view, correctly avoided the disastrous euro, itself designed to accelerate the political union.

We were able to ask Nigel a number of questions, some reflecting agreement with his position and others concerns aligned with the ‘Remain’ position or simply a fear of impending disaster.

Our chairman, John Baylis concluded this cordial lunch in the Hotel de Bastard in Lectoure by thanking Lord Lawson for his speech. Thanks were also due to Marion for her excellent organisation and to Simon for making the whole event possible. It was indeed a very worthwhile occasion and one to remember as Brexit advances.

John was pleased to see more members and hoped to see many of them (and guests) at the forthcoming AGM.

IMG_3447
Simon’s introduction
IMG_3455
Question Time

IMG_3449 (1)