2018 Events: March Update


A small group of members met on 9th March for lunch at Montignac and then enjoyed a guided tour (in excellent English) of Lascaux 4, the new exhibition that displays 95 per cent of the paintings of the original Lascaux cave discovered in the 1940s.

Upcoming events

The committee is pursuing the following events for 2018. Members are welcome to make further suggestions.

  • April 19th (Thursday): informal lunch at the Bastide Saint-Louis, Prayssas (47) at 12:30.  If you would like to attend please email our secretary (nigelhgriffin@gmail.com) no later than Friday 13th April. No menu choice is required but it would be helpful to have numbers in advance.
  • May 19th (Saturday): Bordeaux:
    • morning: Cité du Vin from 10:30
    • lunch at Cité du Vin from 12:00
    • afternoon: visit to the submarine base from 14:30
    • please note the change of date: details of this visit will be posted shortly.
  • June 9th (Saturday): visit to Geoff Douglas’s house, Rieux-Volvestre, in Haute-Garonne (31), coffee at 10:30, walk, visit to local places of interest, picnic.
  • June (date t.b.a): visit to Saint-Emilion (33)
  • August:
    • August 9th (Thursday): visit to a Sainte-Mère Festival rehearsal (32) preceded by lunch locally (47 or 32): see  Join us at Sainte-Mère.
    • (date t.b.a) lunch with speaker of general interest
  • September 7th (Friday) : AGM lunch

Details will be sent to all members as each event firms up.

Join us at Sainte-Mère

At our request, member Piers Killeen has kindly arranged for us to attend a rehearsal by the Albion Quartet during the festival at Sainte-Mère (32). This will take place on 9th August after a lunch to be arranged nearby. There will be a small charge for this event to help support the festival.

Details of the festival programme are on the Sainte-Mere website and you may like to attend a concert in addition.

It would be helpful at this early stage to get some idea of numbers for the lunch and rehearsal, so please let us know if you might attend via:




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.

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.


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.


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).








(photos Tony, Pip, Branka and John).