Saturday, April 1, 2017

From the President

Chers Amis,
April is here and the warm nights of the last few weeks are becoming a distant memory as we cover up more in bed at night and wake up to much cooler mornings. It won’t be long before many of our members are away, searching for the northern hemisphere sun and the delights of France and the rest of Europe. Gail and I will be lucky enough to join them and we will be away from mid May to the end of June visiting the Dordogne region in France and part of the UK.
The 28th of March was our French film night and was attended by over 30 members and friends who enjoyed ‘La Famille Bélier’, a comedy about a young girl and her eccentric family. Guests were greeted on arrival with a choice of wine, cheeses, pâtés and biscuits and most stayed on afterwards to enjoy dinner at the Top Pub.
Our next event will be a tapas dinner at Ritzy’s at the end of May. Full details will be provided in the May newsletter.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

From the President

Chers Amis
Here we are at the beginning of March and what we thought was the new year is already well on its way, as are the activities of your Alliance Française. Petanque has been going since the end of January and we have had our inaugural meeting of our fluent French speakers which will be repeated on the first Friday of each month.

Our first big social event of the year, the Welcome Party, was held at Mike and Lilias Warren’s house on 11 February. This was a very well patronised event with the largest attendance at such an event so far. Everyone was greeted and made welcome on arrival with a glass of Kir Royale. Much work had been done by Mike and his volunteers to ensure that everyone had a comfortable place to sit and enjoy the vast array of food available, and a suitable ‘French’ atmosphere was created by an abundance of French and Australian flags and two attractive murals. The success of the day was ensured when the weather turned out to be sunny and calm and the heavy rain we were all expecting went somewhere else. A big thanks to all of those who slaved over their French recipe books to produce the wonderful entrees mains and desserts, and particularly, to Mike and Lilias who were so generous in opening up their lovely house to us and making us so welcome.

What a great start to the year!


Wednesday, February 8, 2017

From the President

Chers Amis

2016 is now long gone, the new year 2017, is well on its way and I expect that we are no longer looking at a predictable progression of one year to the next. World events in 2016 will make this particular transition from the old to the new one which will be somewhat out of the ordinary. Hopefully, living as we do on the far south coast of a country at the bottom of the world, the impact of this transition will be softened by distance and time.
One thing for us which will be predictable and reassuring is the strong program of events which your Alliance Francaise is preparing for you in 2017. We will continue to provide all of the cultural events and activities we have given you in the past.
We are not a Language teaching Alliance but we are lucky to have a number of local teachers including Brigitte Leroy, Benedicte Moreau and Jan Porter giving private French language lessons. Our friends at the U3A also offer French language courses.
Thanks to the involvement of our new Committee member Hilaire Alba, we are restarting our French language conversation groups. For more details please read the note about this further down.
If there are any other activities cultural or linguistic which you think might enrich our Alliance Francaise please let us know. This is your Alliance and we want it to work for you. On behalf of the committee may I conclude by wishing you good health and happiness in 2017.

Rob McCombie

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

From the President

Chers Amis
What a year it has been for the Alliance Francaise de la Cote de Saphir! Through the tireless work of our Committees we started the year off with a welcome party for all of our members at Mike and Lilias Warren’s place, savoured the oenological delights of the French wine industry at our wine tasting (also at Mike and Lilias’s place), enjoyed a full year’s program of petanque at Mandeni Park culminating in the Annual Coupe d’Antibes, celebrated Bastille Day, enjoyed French language film nights, celebrated our francophone food night by eating non-Canadian food (which turned out to be Canadian food after all), saved our library from a slow and watery death at the community swimming pool by migrating it to the new Tura Library, kept you up to date with our activities through the monthly issues of La Mouette, and finished off the year with a relaxing Christmas Party at Mandeni. Many of our members have travelled overseas to France and other countries and our Alliance has warmly welcomed the occasional visitor from France. Nine new members joined us during the year.
Your Committee will have a short break over Christmas but will come back in the new year  revitalised with new ideas; perhaps a little music and dance inspired by one of our new members to liven things up a bit.

May you all have a happy Christmas and a safe and prosperous New Year.

Meilleurs voeux.
Rob McCombie

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

From the President

Chers Amis
Your new committee has hit the ground running and on 23rd October our members enjoyed a Cajun lunch at the Wharf Restaurant; the latest in our ongoing festival of food with a French influence. The event was well patronised by members as well as invited guests and members’ meals received a $10 subsidy from club reserves. We have to thank Secretary Mike Warren for organising the lunch and formulating the very challenging trivia quiz. See page 2 of the November La Mouette for details and photos.
Elsewhere in La Mouette you will see details of our new home for the club’s collection of French books and other material which has been re-housed from the Pambula Aquatic Centre to the Tura Marrang Library & Community Centre. This move makes our collection more accessible to members and provides much safer and appropriate storage. Our thanks go to Julie Welsh who negotiated the move with the Bega Valley Shire authorities and the local Library staff, and to Gai and Phillip Jacobs who helped Julie in moving everything to the Tura library. Many thanks also to Secretary Mike Warren for locating & fixing a key safe to the cupboard.
Our last social function for 2016 will be the Alliance Française Christmas BBQ and the battle for the Coupe d’Antibes which will be held at Mandeni on 27 November. Full details are provided in La Mouette. Petanque players are a much happier group of people than international tennis players and always put on a great performance for their spectators so please note the date in your diaries and come along and enjoy a day of food, wine and francophone fun.

Rob McCombie

Sunday, October 2, 2016

From the President

Chers Amis,

It’s now just over a month since our AGM but this will be my first opportunity to thank our retiring President, Gai Jacobs, who led our club with dignity and quiet efficiency over the last 2 years. I would also like to thank Margaret Gaunson our retiring Secretary and Master Fixer who always had all of the answers, and Denise Brown, Julie Welsh, Annette Gleeson, all of whom worked tirelessly on the Committee. Margaret has been replaced by Mike Warren who took up duties as Secretary earlier this year, making a significant additional commitment to work he is doing elsewhere in the local community. Kerry Hunting has generously agreed to retain her position as Treasurer and Clive Roberts continues to serve on the Committee in the role of journalist and editor-in-chief of La Mouette as well as co-ordinating the monthly petanque competition at Mandeni. I also welcome a new member to the Committee, and a new member of the Alliance, Michael Quinlan. There is still another vacancy on the Committee and if there are any other members who are able to contribute their time and expertise on the Committee please contact me or Mike Warren.

Our activities this year will build on the success of things we have done well in the past like the Alliance Francaise social occasions to celebrate Bastille Day, our French food nights, our Christmas party and French wine tastings, the monthly Petanque competitions and our French Film nights. We will continue to offer beginners’ French language conversations for members wanting to learn French for the first time and, hopefully, restart French language discussion groups for those who are more advanced. Our French language activities are supported by our French language library which is currently being considered by the Committee for re-location to the Shire library at Tura Beach shopping centre. This would be a much more convenient location for most of our members as well as providing a more secure location for our material.

Essentially, our activities will be intended to provide the opportunity for companionship for people with a shared interest in the French language and wishing to celebrate all things French. If you have any ideas for other activities we could offer our membership please let me know. On behalf of the Committee I wish you all the best for the coming year.

Rob McCombie

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

President's Report 2016 AGM

Once again, I think I can say that 2015/16 was a most successful year for the Alliance Française de la Côte de Saphir. All the usual events, as well as some new ones were well attended, and without having actual statistics, it seems to me that, in general, attendance was up at most functions. Or else, those present were particularly boisterous, conjuring the illusion of large numbers! Regardless, we have all had a marvellous time!

To refresh our memories on the year that was:
Commencing in October, a Moroccan inspired lunch was held at the Wharf Restaurant. An afternoon of entertainment ensued, with Mike Warren having prepared some Moroccan based trivia questions to ponder, and, to the delight of all, between main course and dessert, whales appeared off long point, (as arranged), and put on a spectacular performance for our exclusive viewing.
The Christmas party was again held at Mandeni in November, where around thirty members and guests enjoyed each other’s company, sunny weather, an exciting pétanque competition and a delicious lunch. The Coupe d’Antibes this year was claimed by team, ‘Les Champions’, consisting of Davina Hewes, Bénédicte Morrow and Mike Warren, after a closely fought final.
2016 dawned for our AF with some changes to the Committee, where we farewelled Margaret Gaunson as Secretary and welcomed Mike Warren to step into the breach. We also farewelled Regine Kasper as editor of La Mouette, after eight years in this role. A remarkable commitment and greatly appreciated by all our members. Clive Roberts took on this enormous task and is doing an excellent job producing a high quality newsletter, on time, every time.
In February, we held the traditional Welcome Party, thanks to the generosity of Mike and Lilias Warren, who opened their wonderfully, spacious house for this function. The theme ‘All things French’, permitted broad scope for creative minds, and another good attendance ensured plenty of delicious dishes to share on a perfect summer’s evening.
A first for our group, at least during the time in which I have been involved, was the Easter Egg Hunt and French picnic, held in March at the beautiful Bald Hills property of one of our members. On this occasion, we also welcomed a young French couple, Magalie and Rodolphe, visiting from Paris. All had a physically active and entertaining day despite the overcast conditions.
As the Film Night proved so popular last year, there were two on offer this year in Pambula. The first screening in April, “Être et Avoir”, and the second in August, “Quai d’Orsay”, received mixed reactions from the audience and stimulated lively discussion at the dinner which followed.
In May, a French Wine Tasting, again at the Warren residence, attracted some keen interest from our wine connoisseurs. Mike arranged for Steve Bryant from Negociants International, one of the world’s pre-eminent premium wine exporters, owned by Yalumba, to offer six wines, with background and tasting notes for each. Impressive indeed! Another first, I believe.
In June we paused, regrouped, debriefed and took a deep breath – then commenced preparations for Bastille Day.
The dinner held in the Garden Room at the Pambula-Merimbula Golf Club proved a great success, with fifty-two members and guests attending. A couple of games held during the night helped to break the ice and get the brain working. The food was excellent and service impeccable. Thanks to all involved.

As well as the special functions organised throughout the year, the regular fortnightly activities continue, so there is always something for everyone in your AF. Pétanque and Saturday Beginners’ French Conversation both prove to be increasingly popular pastimes. Thanks to the facilitators, Clive Roberts, Pétanque, and Robert McCombie, Conversation, for making the ongoing commitment to ensure these activities are always available to our members.
Along with the occasional fluent French speakers’ lunches, generously facilitated by Denise and Kerry respectively, there is always something for everyone to enjoy.

Then, of course there is the Library. There have been concerns with the Library for a number of years now, regarding where it is situated, at the Pool in Pambula, and the deterioration of its contents. Thank you to Julie Welsh for taking such good care of our library over the past three years and chasing the wayward borrowers. There are currently moves afoot to find a better solution to the library issues.

I can’t end this report without paying tribute to the people of France in the wake of all the tragedy that has befallen them over the past two years. All of us who belong to the Alliance Française de la Côte de Saphir, do so because we love France and all things French; and although these atrocities are happening in many parts of the globe, we hold a very special place in our hearts for France, its people, and it’s beacon of liberté égalité fraternité. All we can do is keep them in our prayers and trust that love will prevail against fear and hatred. Vive la France!  

In conclusion then, I want to thank the fantastic Committee members who have been such a delight to work with over the years. Our meetings are always convivial and bright, with each one putting his or her hand up at every turn for one job or another. All the events mentioned don’t just happen on the day; there is always someone who has put a great deal of time and effort into making sure that it will be ‘alright on the night’. So, thank you Annette, Denise, Julie, Kerry, Margaret, Clive, Mike and Robert for making things happen, you are all amazing!

Thank you to all the members for so generously and enthusiastically supporting our functions, and as I step down from the presidency tonight, I wish the new Committee and the Alliance Française de la Côte de Saphir all the very best for a long and successful future.
Thank you

Gai Jacobs

Madame la Président
Alliance Française de la Côte de Saphir
5 September 2016