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

Thursday, August 18, 2016

From the President

Bonjour a tous. Sadly, this will be my final President's Report for La Mouette. I will be stepping down from the position at the AGM next month, and four other committee members will also be leaving. This is a fervent appeal to all members to seriously consider nominating for a Committee position for the next twelve months. I think it is a healthy policy to rotate committee members every couple of years so that new and innovative ideas can be put forward. Should we not find enough people to take up these positions, we may not be able to continue as we have done. I understand that we are all busy people, but as they say..."Ask a busy person!!".  Please consider.

Further details of the AGM are published in this edition, and we would love to see 100% membership there with so many nominations that we need an election. Wouldn't that make a change???  My final President's Report will be presented at the AGM but I would sincerely like to thank all the current and past Committee for their dedication and commitment to the task. A very special mention, once again, to Margaret Gaunson, who has given so many years and so much energy to the AF de la Cote de Saphir. I know that although she will enjoy the break, she has already committed her time to another group. Thank you too, to all the general members who always so generously support our functions and make this Alliance such a friendly and fun filled one of which to be a part. Thank you one and all.

Gai Jacobs

Saturday, June 18, 2016

From the President

We are all looking forward to the 2016 Bastille Day dinner on Saturday 16 July; please see details in  the July issue of La Mouette or on the Events page of this site. Invite your friends and make your bookings as soon as possible to claim your place at the table. It is always a most enjoyable night.
In August there will be another French movie night in Pambula, a little more lighthearted this time, with a film called 'The French Minister (Quai d'Orsay). Details are also in the July issue of La Mouette or on the Events page of this site.  
As September approaches, we begin to think about the AGM and the need to form a new Committee. There will be at least four members standing down at this Meeting, so we are looking for nominations from the general membership to step in to those Committee positions. I would ask each one of you to seriously consider nominating for one of these positions, as new ideas and energy are vital for the future of our Alliance. Please feel free to contact any one of the current Committee members if you have any questions.
Gai Jacobs

Sunday, May 29, 2016

La Fête des Mères

This year, France is celebrating La Fête des Mères a celebration that originated centuries ago, on Sunday 29 May. Celebrating women is not a modern concept! It goes back to Greek mythology when Rhea, the mother of all gods and goddesses was duly celebrated during spring. The Romans took over the celebration and the cult of Cybele, the mother of all the Roman gods, survived until the 4th century AD.
The French thought of celebrating mothers and their families as early as in 1806 when Napoleon I intended to implement an official date! But alas, History decided otherwise! The next attempt to create a Mothers’ Day occurred in 1906, a century later, in the little village of Artas in the department of Isère and at the instigation of a man named Prosper Roche who founded the Union Fraternelle in order to pay tribute to the parents of large families. Artas has since been recognized as the cradle of the Fête des Mères celebration.
The city of Lyon followed the example and organized a Mothers’ Day in 1918 to pay tribute to all the women who lost a son and/or husband during World War I, a conflict during which the loss of human lives was astronomical. A couple of years later a Mothers’ Day celebrating the women of large families was implemented in order to encourage women to have children and repopulate a country that had lost 10.5% of its active male population! The celebrations included the award of a medal,“Médailles de la Famille Française”, to those who had many children. However, it was not until 1929 that La Fête des Mères became an official celebration.
It didn’t become part of the calendar until 1941, though, when Marshal Pétain re-launched the celebration during World War II, once more in order to encourage the re-population of the country! The notion of family and housewife were to become the base of the French society for the years to follow. The celebration was very controversial at the time, not only because it had been implemented by the Regime of Vichy, but also because many thought that it was a sexist concept that denied emancipation to women; in other words that recognized them only good enough to have children, cook and clean.
People seemed to have forgotten that women had been working in factories to replace the men who were fighting at the front, they had contributed to the war effort, they had proven that they were equal to men and now they were being asked to return to their cooking? The stigma remained for a only few years, however, as women’s suffrage was granted by General Charles De Gaulle at the end of the war (better late than never!) and they painfully but successfully gained their emancipation! French Mothers’ Day is celebrated on the last Sunday in May, unless Pentecost falls on that day, when it is then transferred to the first Sunday in June.
Gai Jacobs

Courtesy Travel France Online - http://www.travelfranceonline.com/

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

From the President

A big “MERCI” to everyone who made our French visitors, Magalie and Rodolphe, feel most welcome at our Alliance Française de la Côte de Saphir. After joining us for a number of functions, they have returned home to Paris, and we look forward to meeting the next of Simon and Brigitte’s visitors in August.
As one of seven participants in last month’s French Conversation for Beginners, I would like to congratulate Robert for a most enjoyable and informative session. The new format proved to be well structured, practical and instructive; thank you Robert, I look forward to the next gathering.
Once again, the Film Night proved popular with about forty members and guests attending; although I hear there was a mixed reaction to the film itself, “Etre et Avoir’. I hope it stimulated lively conversation at the dinner which followed.
Your Committee is endeavouring to provide a variety of events for your entertainment and we thank you wholeheartedly for supporting them. Please see the upcoming offerings further on in this edition.

Gai Jacobs

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Chasse aux oeufs de Pâques et de pique-nique français

On Easter Monday 28th March, 14 members and guests gathered at the beautiful Bald Hills property of Alliance Française member Narelle Sheridan for a French pique-nique and Easter Egg Hunt.

The garden and surrounds provided a challenging hunting ground for this group of intrepid chocoholics and Mike Warren had done a great job, placing coloured paddle-pop sticks (in lieu of chocolate eggs, due to possible pilfering from one little dog or other random wildlife) discreetly amongst the rocks, garden beds and branches of trees.

This event proved to be highly competitive with a certain degree of stealth being employed by some egg hunters!

There was a pause for morning tea, after which searching was resumed to find the last of the missing sticks, which were then exchanged for chocolate eggs. Some physical exercise was definitely required after morning tea and/or chocolate egg sampling and so an impromptu game of pétanque was organised on the lawn next to  the house. Playing on grass with its dips and furrows, a totally different playing surface to Mandeni, proved to be quite a challenge and created much entertainment. Due to the small number of boules available everyone played with one boule each, men versus women, with the women proving victorious.

Despite the overcast and cool weather everyone was able to enjoy their self-catered picnics on the lawn while appreciating the lovely garden with roses, lavender and other varied shrubs and trees surrounding the house and colourful birdlife coming to visit.

Our guests for the day, a delightful young French couple from Paris, Magalie and Rodolphe joined in the fun with good humour and often bemused expressions as they tried to come to grips with our local interpretation of a French styled pique-nique!

Sincere thanks go to Narelle Sheridan for so generously agreeing to host this event and also to Mike Warren for organising the Easter eggs and hunt and also the necessary correspondence and publicity.

Julie Welsh

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Our Welcome Party for 2016 proved to be another successful gathering on a fine Saturday evening in February, at the beautiful home of Mike and Lilias Warren. A small group of members had spent the afternoon decorating and preparing the house to accommodate thirty four seated guests, à table, creating an ambiance reminiscent of a French Bistro (even the butter for the baguettes was from Normandy!)
Comme d’habitude, each guest was welcomed with a Kir Royale on arrival and it wasn’t long before the place was abuzz with lively conversation. Once again, the food prepared by the guests was delicious and plentiful, and I even heard a few of the men complaining, as they were leaving, about having eaten too much! Mon Dieu! I must agree though, that it was very hard not to be tempted to second and third helpings!
In previous years, it has been the tradition at this function to present the Plaque for the Coupe d’Antibes to the winners of the competition held at the Christmas party. The winners on this occasion were “Les Champions”, (Bénédicte Morrow, Davina Hewes and Mike Warren). Since they had already been presented with the Coupe on the day, Mike and Davina, in Bénédicte’s absence, chose to forgo the official presentation and accepted the Plaque quietly at their table.
Fortunately, Bill Schwenson was on hand to make a wonderful acceptance speech, on behalf of the winners, in perfect pidgin French; we are so fortunate to have someone as accomplished as Bill to step up to the mark at such short notice! As the last place on the current plaque was filled with the inscription of the winners’ names, the committee has decided not to purchase another. Although it has been fun, there is the problem of storage and cost, and it seems that most members are happy to receive the prizes, and be presented with the Coupe on the day.

On behalf of everyone who attended, I want to thank Mike and Lilias for offering their home for this function, and for the great effort they, and their friends, put into making it so “à la française”, and accommodating. Your hospitality is sincerely appreciated, thank you.

On another note, I want to wish Brigitte and Simon, “Bon Voyage”, as they leave us in March to travel overseas for six months; I for one am extremely envious! They are having a couple of French guests stay in their house while they are away, and I am hoping that we will be able to welcome them to some of our functions. I am sure that they would also enjoy the company and conversation of our more fluent French speaking members. Watch this space!

A bientôt

Gai Jacobs

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Bonne année et bienvenue à 2016 !!

I sincerely hope that you all had a wonderful time with family and friends over the break. It can be hectic trying to cram a year’s worth of fun into a few weeks, with those we only see at this time of year; but it’s always well worth it!

The new year, for our Alliance, brings with it a change of positions within our Committee. With some sadness, we farewell Margaret Gaunson as Secretary, while at the same time we are very happy to have her remain as a Committee member for the remainder of the year. As we all know, although the President of any group is the ‘front man’, it is the Secretary who really runs the show! Margaret has been the guiding hand of Alliance Française de la Côte de Saphir for more years than she would have liked, but in consideration of the group, has carried on until a new Secretary could be found.
I want to acknowledge here Margaret’s dedication, efficiency, energy, initiative, drive and rigour in her role over the years. We have been most fortunate to have had her expertise to rely upon when dealing with matters regarding insurance, the bureaucracy in Paris, running the AGM correctly, asset keeping and historical record keeping. There are far too many ‘little’ things that she keeps an eye on to mention here, but please know, Margaret, that all you have done over the years is greatly appreciated by the rest of the Committee and indeed the wider membership. Thank you.

So, on that note, we must now welcome our new Secretary, Mike Warren, who has so graciously taken up the charge, and has some rather impressive credentials to bring to the position as well. We thank you, Mike, for taking on this role and affording Margaret the break she truly deserves.

Well, your Alliance Committee is trying to plan a fun-filled 2016 for you, commencing with the Welcome Party on 13 February at Tura Beach. All the details can be found elsewhere in this newsletter, so please reply ASAP.

This year, we are hoping to have two movie events, as they have been so popular, an Easter Egg Hunt and French picnic, Bastille Day get-together, as well as the regular activities of Pétanque and Saturday Conversation mornings. If any of you have some ideas about what you would like us to be doing for you, please contact any one of the Committee members (details in La Mouette) - we are always open to suggestions and eager to hear from you.

Mike Warren has updated the Blog, so if you want to visit http://www.afsaphir.blogspot.com.au/ you will find lots of interesting information about all things French, as well as the main articles from La Mouette. Membership subscriptions are now due, so please send your cheque or EFT payment immediately, in order to enjoy the many functions to be provided in 2016. Tell your friends too, as they say in the classics, “Plus on est de fous, plus on rit!!”

À bientôt. Gai Jacobs
Mme la Présidente