Saturday, July 11, 2020

From the President


Chers Amis
Last month, given the way the pandemic was progressing through the country, I expected that we wouldn’t be able to hold Bastille Day celebrations this year. Even when the NSW Government began to lift restrictions it was not permitted for groups of greater than 20 people to meet in restaurants. But trying to predict the future in these interesting times can be tricky to say the least.
Even though Melbourne has gone back into lockdown and the NSW/Victorian border is closed, you will know from the e-mails sent by our Secretary, Mike Warren, that not only can all of our members meet in a restaurant, Mike has actually been able to organise a Bastille Day lunch for us at Wheeler’s Restaurant. I would like to say a big thanks to Mike for his good work.
With many of us having had visits from relatives in Melbourne these school holidays, and the vulnerable age of many of our members, please remember to observe the social distancing requirements and the restrictions on handshakes, hugging etc. Things have been very quiet in our little group over the last few months due to the pandemic but we will be holding our first post-Covid Committee meeting on 21 July and hope to restart whatever of our normal activities are possible. We’ll keep you posted. Looking forward to seeing you at Wheelers.
Meilleurs voeux,  Rob McCombie

Monday, June 8, 2020

From the President


Chers Amis
What a year it has been so far; and things don’t look like getting much better very quickly. We have an energetic and imaginative committee full of ideas for new projects for 2020 but the Covid 19 restrictions have prevented us from enjoying even our usual activities of watching movies, enjoying restauranting and tasting French wines. A major casualty this year will be our annual Bastille Day celebrations and depending on how things are progressing in September, we may even have to postpone our AGM. The only bright spots on the calendar have been our well patronised pétanque games which have been fully subscribed and have even had waiting lists. If you need a fix of Alliance Francaise camaraderie contact Mike Warren and put your name down for a game; there won’t be a BBQ but there will still be a socially-distanced morning tea.
As always, it’s an ill wind which blows no good and one great benefit of the Covid lockdown to me and other cycling enthusiasts in our region has been a significant reduction in the number of cars on the road who are trying to murder me every time I go out for a ride. Oh to live in France or the Netherlands where motorists are more thoughtful about sharing the road with other road users!
Last month I spoke about people, including myself, who had travel plans this year. I’m happy to let you know that the airline I booked with has provided me with a cost-free option to re-book any time until the end of calendar year 2021, as has the cruise company which was going to take us for a trip around the Baltic Sea. As an extra bonus, my travel insurer has contacted me and asked if I wanted a refund of my premiums. I hope that all of you who were planning to travel overseas have had similarly happy outcomes.
Meilleurs voeux
Rob McCombie

Sunday, April 12, 2020

From the President

Chers Amis

For the majority of us I expect that this will be the most memorable Easter of our lives. Over the past month or so we have seen over a million of the world's population diagnosed with Covid 19 and over 95,000 Covid-related deaths. The disease has caused mayhem for national economies and wrought havoc in the lives of millions around the world who must comply with lockdowns and social distancing. It seems in many respects that Australia has fared better than many countries and while this is something for which we must be grateful, only continuing vigilance will see our good fortune continue. I wish you all 'bon courage' and hope that you all stay safe.

The social distancing requirements of both State and Commonwealth Governments have of course made all of our normal social functions impossible. Regrettably, this includes most of the items we had on our exciting list of proposed new activities for 2020. However, a unique exception may well be the holding of French language discussion groups as it seems that these could be conducted on-line via Zoom or some similar video conferencing facility. Sylvie Dubrulle is still accepting expressions of interest about this activity so please contact her or Mike Warren if you would like to participate.

Finally, I would like to congratulate our new Editor-in-Chief for La Mouette. Trish Dive has taken over from Clive Roberts who was our Editor for so many years.  It was with great regret that we learned that Clive is unwell and unable to continue this work for our Alliance.  I would like to thank Clive for all the many hours he has spent harassing contributors, gathering articles, editing drafts and meeting deadlines as Editor of La Mouette over the years and wish him a speedy recovery. I would also like to thank Trish for her generosity in taking on this serious task in our organisation.  Trish's work will be easier if she receives regular contributions and reports from members so please keep her in mind if you think that you have something to offer.
Robert McCombie




Monday, March 23, 2020

From the President


Chers Amis
The big news for our Alliance this month is the co-opting to the committee of two new members, Sylvie Dubrelle and Wal Wolzak which brings the strength of our committee to nine persons being the maximum allowed under our Constitution. I would like to offer my congratulations to both and thank them for joining us. It will make the Committee’s work much easier to have extra hands to help with running our Alliance. However, the main reason Sylvie and Wal offered to join us arises from their generosity in offering to work on so many of the items on the New Program of Activities identified at last month’s Welcome Party. A full list of these appears later in this newsletter together with the names and contact details of the relevant activity co-ordinator. If you would like to participate in any of these you should e-mail the relevant co-ordinator (cc to Secretary Mike Warren) to register your interest. It may be that some don’t attract a sufficient number of members to warrant implementation and these will not be proceeded with; so you should notify us by e-mail as soon as possible if you would really like to participate. There is no limit to the number of activities you can subscribe to. The introduction of new activities to our annual program doesn’t mean that we will lose any of the items which have been so well patronised in the past and this applies especially to our French Film Nights. So make a note in your diaries for the evening of 31 March when we will offer our first French film for 2020.
Meilleurs voeux
Rob McCombie

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

From the President


Chers Amis
Our big event to make a start to 2020 was the welcome function held at Mike and Lilias’ place on Saturday, 8 February and was attended by over 40 members and guests. This was an outstanding success given the absence of a number of members who were visiting interstate. A highlight of the evening was the generosity and culinary skill of the many who provided us with a tempting array of entrees, mains and desserts from regional France. I would like to thank all of those who brought something along and made the night a success. Another highlight was the attendance of two new members, John and Helen Verhelst who we welcome most warmly to our group.
Always with a sharp eye for an opportunity, Mme la Trésorière took advantage of the captive audience to canvass members about new activities which they would like to see added to our program this year. Many members made suggestions, some new and some which had been tried in the past, but all of which will be discussed at the next Committee meeting. The Committee is anxious to introduce new activities into our annual program and is open to seeking the assistance of ordinary members with special skills to ensure that they are implemented quickly and effectively. Our Editor is providing a list of the activities later in this edition. Please contact me or one of the other committee members if there is a particular activity which attracts your interest and in which you may be able to assist.
Our next event will be a French film night on 31 March so save the date in your diaries. We will advise you as soon as we have selected a film which, as always, will be sub-titled for the benefit of those who don’t speak French.
Meilleurs voeux
Rob McCombie

Sunday, December 15, 2019

From the President

Chers Amis,
 We are often reminded in elite sporting competitions how yesterday’s cockerel can turn out to be today’s feather duster and so it was at this year’s running of the Coupe d’Antibes. Last year I was on a team which won the day but this year our team didn’t even get a place. Perhaps if I had spent more Saturday mornings at Mandeni with Clive I would have been more useful to my team mates. Les Trois Graces, skilfully led by Regine Kasper, were winners this year after defeating runners-up, Les Gagnants. And just to keep it in the family, Wolfgang waltzed off with the prize for the player with the most elegant style. As always, we had a fun day and with the weather gods smiling on us for a change and we enjoyed good company and good food after the game.
I would like to offer my congratulations to Emma Collins and Nate Wood, who are studying French at the South Coast Anglican College. Emma (Year 12) and Nate (Year 6) are the recipients of the 2019 Alliance Francaise de la Côte de Saphir Prizes for excellence in French studies. Well done Emma and Nate and also to their teacher, Jean Winterflood (who turns out to be a very handy pétanque player).
2019 has been a busy and successful year for our Alliance and your committee will be working hard to ensure that 2020 will be even better. I’m looking forward to seeing you all at the 2020 welcome party.
Joyeux Noel et bonne année
Rob McCombie  

Saturday, November 9, 2019

From the President


Chers Amis,
Last Sunday we enjoyed our last French inspired lunch of the year at Wheelers’ Restaurant, Pambula. Thirty-two of our members enjoyed wonderful food, good wine and great company. Our Maître(sse) d’ got into the French flavour of the occasion wearing a French beret and greeted us all on arrival with a cheery ‘Bonjour’. Even the welcome shower of rain which fell while we were eating didn’t dampen our spirits. The only thing that slowed us down a bit was the trivia quiz which had most of us scratching our heads trying to remember critical names and dates. Not so, however, for Neil Porter and his team who carried off first prize in grand style. 2019 might be drawing to a close but there are still important dates to note in your calendars for the Alliance. The first is the wine tasting which is to be held at Mike Warren’s place on Friday, 29th November from 5pm till 7pm. Brent McKay of Amazing Grapes in Canberra is bringing us an excellent selection of very competitively prices French wines which will be delivered in time for your Christmas Festivities, so come along and discover some great French wines. A full list of what’s on offer appears below. The last event of the year will be the Annual Coupe d’Antibes and Christmas Party to be held at Mandeni Park on Sunday, 8 December at 10.00am. As usual it’s BYO everything except for a complimentary drink of Kir Royale, bubbly or soft drink on arrival. There will be lots of prizes on offer for pétanque players including one for the person with the most elegant style. It will be a lot of fun, so don’t miss out.
Amitiés,
Rob McCombie