The Plan for 2020/21 and the 2020 AGM

Our Hon. Sec. writes:

The OUSWF Committee met informally this Tuesday (28th July) to discuss what, if anything, might be salvaged from the proposed 2020 events programme previewed on this site.

The consensus was that the planned October visit to Château Feely should now join the aborted May Gaillac visit and June tour of Château Malromé on a provisional programme for 2021. As and when we have the all-clear to firm up those events, details will, of course, be posted in the usual way.

Our Constitution, last revised in 2009, mandates the holding of an AGM ‘normally in the first fortnight of October’. The terms of our registration as an Association here in France oblige us to do the same.

In the light of ongoing uncertainties about the health crisis and the constraints currently in place on gatherings, it would not seem possible to hold a 2020 AGM along traditional lines.

What we propose to do is to hold in October an AGM attended solely by members of the current Committee. In mid-September we will send all members for online approval a copy of the reports of the Treasurer, Secretary, and Webmaster, together with the usual invitation to propose items for discussion at the now skeleton AGM. If there are any misgivings about this temporary extension of the remit of the committee and its officers, these will be addressed at the earliest opportunity.

Clearly, this solution will not satisfy all members, any more than it does the current Committee. If you wish to raise any questions before the September issue of the draft reports for AGM approval, please address these to the Hon. Secretary.

Bon courage. 

OUS SW France in the time of the virus

Firstly, what’s happening with our plans for the year?

Nigel explains:

Members will have gathered that OUSWF events gazetted for this spring and early summer have had to be postponed. 

As you may recall, some of us planned to meet next week for an informal lunch in Prayssas (Lot-et-Garonne). Further details of the 6 May trip to Gaillac arranged by Committee member Chris Boddington were to have come round later this month. We now hope to stage that event at a later date.

Question marks must still hang over meetings further down the line, among them a possible visit in late June to the Gironde Château Malromé (33490 St-André-des-Bois), some 10 km N. of Langon, eventual home to Adèle Toulouse-Lautrec, mother of the painter Henri.

We are reasonably confident (or, at least, there are those who would have us so) that we shall be able to hold our AGM in early September at the Restaurant l’Atelier in 24560 Issigeac. We shall see.

Meanwhile, we shall of course keep the membership posted in the light of developments in the present health emergency.

– The Committee

Furthermore:

Just in case bureaucratic French is a challenge, thanks to Marion, here is a translation of the current set of rules concerning the confinement:

ATTESTATION DE DÉPLACEMENT DÉROGATOIRE
(2nd version, issued Wednesday 25 March 2020)
New directive issued by the French Government. You are only allowed to leave home in the following circumstances:
  1. Essential professional activity that cannot be conducted from home;
  2. Purchase of food, collection of social benefit, or cash withdrawal;
  3. Visit to a doctor (if you are unable to consult him/her over the phone), to the chemist, or for ongoing treatment for a long-term illness;
  4. Child-minding and family assistance, but only in cases of extreme necessity;
  5. Brief physical exercise, limited to one hour and to within a 1-kilometre radius of your home, either alone or with others who share your home, or to walk your dog;*
  6. Summons to a court; or
  7. Participation in community activities, only if invited the appropriate authority.
You can download the piece of paper you need to fill in at: ‘Attestation de Déplacement Dérogatoire’ on the government site www.interieur.gouv.fr/Actualites (several other sites also offer a download). You will need to take a completed and updated copy with you every time you go out. If you do not, you will face a hefty fine.
Confinement has now been extended until 16th April [watch this space …].
If you experience any difficulties with your day-to-day life (with shopping etc.), you may find your local Mairie helpful. You should find all Government announcements posted on their notice boards.
*For those living in the Lot-et Garonne, all pathways, whether through woodland, around lakes, or along rivers/canals, are out of bounds.
Finally, a French radio correspondent advises: “Do NOT wash your cat with disinfectant”…

Around Gaillac in May

Our first full event of 2020, arranged by Committee member Christopher Boddington, will be a trip on Wednesday 6 May to the Gaillac region. Details have been sent to members.

Arrangements include:

The 2020 AGM will take place in either the first or the second week of September at Restaurant l’Atelier, 62 D14, 24560 Issigeac. Further details will be on this Website as soon as we have them.

Villa Arnaga

A hot 4th July did not deter a group of members and partners from driving into the far south west of our region to enjoy the delights of the French Basque countryside around Cambo and the city pleasures of Bayonne. The highlight of our day at Cambo was a visit to Edmond Rostand’s Villa Arnaga, with its superb gardens featuring a thousand Hortensias, and a French garden with its pergola, canal and water mirror leading to the house and surrounded by beautifully laid-out beds.

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In 1902, the immense success of Cyrano de Bergerac enabled Rostand and his wife Rosamonde to design and have built a magnificent house in the Basque style, with splendid interiors (see the web site), further embellished by recently restored fairy-tale decor by the then-contemporary caricaturist Jean Veber.

This visit was preceded by a good lunch in the Hotel Bellevue, which does indeed have a fine panoramic view of Cambo Bas and the sight of circling vultures (our lunch nevertheless untroubled!).

The day ended with a committee meeting enhanced by tapas and wine in the Hotel des Basses-Pyrennees in Bayonne. Many thanks to Marion for organising us so efficiently.

 

Bauduc

Our OUS SW France association has made a regular habit of chateau visits, characteristically to chateaux in vineyards. Such was our visit on 9th May to the British-owned Chateau Bauduc, notable as a supplier to top chefs such as Gordon Ramsay, Rick Stein and (for those who know North Wales well) Bryan Webb, in whose restaurant members first encountered Bauduc.

It was not the best day for sunning ourselves amongst the vines, but we did note the black vines first planted in 1947 and the netting being tested to protect against the hail which often destroys substantial percentages of the annual production. The chai contains two sections for red and white, generating a substantial volume of production that seemed immense to your correspondant. Shipping to bottling requires an exercise of military precision.

The Chateau has its own website which tells the story of the Quinney’s successful venture and it was Angela who very kindly greeted us in their chateau-home for an extensive degustation of Crémant de Bordeaux, whites and reds.

Sensible planning by Nigel ensured that we were not late for lunch at la Table in Créon where we enjoyed an excellent menu around a single large table, as the photos display (other photos can be found at OUS Bauduc ).

2018 AGM

The restaurant Le Caillou near Vire-sur-Lot was this year’s venue for our AGM. Discussion centred on the substantial continuing interest among members and the forward programme for 2019. An agreeable lunch followed for the 13 members attending and 12 partners and friends: apologies were received from a further 17 members. Our thanks to Greg Hawes and Nigel Griffin for their organisation.

 

After ravioli, Ravi par Ravel

On 9th August 2018, some 21 members, family and friends met for lunch in the Auberge des Bouviers in Lectoure for a lunch of quality in its splendid upstairs room. A couple of us courageously (or foolishly) tried the menu du jour’s very substantial andouillette but everyone else stayed in less challenging but much appreciated territory. As ever on these occasions, amidst good conversation, some new friendships and encounters were generated in the true spirit of our association.

Our objective then was to meet member Piers Killeen at his Chateau to see the then-resident Albion Quartet practice a piece from their next concert. The weather being (for this summer) atypically uncertain, we found them already at work in the Church next door. However, we were all quickly ejected by the onset of an imminent funeral and so repaired inside Piers’ fine house to hear them rehearse Ravel’s Quartet in F. We were much intrigued by the dynamics of the interplay between the players as well as the stunning immediacy and quality of their playing. Given that they had three concerts in three days ahead to rehearse, we were very privileged to get this unusual insight into the creation of fine music and to be able to ask questions about their approach to their work. Piers remarked that their concert the previous evening had been an exciting demonstration of the evolution of the quartet form from Haydn’s signature Op 20 no 2 to Beethoven’s final quartet, Op. 135 – followed by a well-timed thunderstorm.

Piers also provided tea and gave us an intriguing tour of his Edward I-period chateau (in which the concerts are held). He explained the historic and bureaucratic challenges that restoring such a monument present – historic because so little is known about its origins and the method of construction must mainly be deduced from what is there. 

We would very much encourage those of you with an interest in chamber music to join Piers’ membership and attend his concerts as a result: http://saintemerefestival.net/en/.

Our great thanks to the Albions and to Piers for making it all possible.

   

Rieux-Volvestre

Nigel Griffin writes: A small group of Members was warmly welcomed by Geoff and Penny Douglas to a picnic lunch in early June on the terrace of their home near Rieux-Volvestre (Haute-Garonne), the Ville-cité where in 1982 Le retour de Martin Guerre was filmed. They kindly arranged a late morning visit to a local atelier with stunning views of the Pyrenees, where the potter Sylvian Meschia spoke of recent installation work featuring his ceramics. After lunch, we were taken by a neighbour, Jean-Pierre Soulat, on an enjoyable and informative tour of the village he knows so intimately.

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photo: Roger Tarn