Tuesday, December 5, 2017

From the President

Chers Amis
As you will all be aware, the Alliance Française de la Côte de Saphir likes to remain at the forefront of technology and innovation and, as President, I wondered for a while if it would be more appropriate for me to just tweet my Christmas item to you rather than have it appear in La Mouette. However, while conceding the considerable economies of thought and writing inherent in tweeting, I thought it better to observe established tradition.
2017 saw a full program of special events for the Alliance and our petanque games continued to provide regular opportunities for our members to meet and enjoy friendly competition, good food and wine in a relaxed atmosphere. Your committee is currently formulating a program for 2018 with some new and exciting events and we would welcome your suggestions and ideas for making next year even better. If you have any good ideas, just send them in an e-mail (or tweet) to me or any of the Committee members.
2017 in the land of the Alliance was calm and comfortable, located as we are in a small regional town of a country on the second last stop to the Antarctic (apologies to our Kiwi brothers and sisters), and our greatest challenges remained small and manageable. The pages of La Mouette have recorded our travels to France and other countries enjoying their food and marvelling at the sights. In 2018, however, the impact of international and national political, economic and security issues could reach even as far as us, possibly making us less adventurous.
Good reason therefore for us all to celebrate the best of French and Australian culture in the company of friends at home in the Alliance. May you all have a happy Christmas and a safe and prosperous New Year.

Meilleurs voeux, Rob McCombie

Friday, November 3, 2017

From the President

Chers Amis
Lunch at Indulge was our big event this month. It was the most recent in a series of fabulous meals from France and francophone countries that we have enjoyed over the last year or so. Bouillabaisse was the keynote meal served as we were celebrating the food of Marseille and France’s Mediterranean coast. In all, there was a choice of three main courses and three desserts providing enough variety for everyone’s preferences. In the past we have enjoyed the food of Morocco, Canada, Belgium, Viet-Nam as well as metropolitan France.
I would like to say a special thanks to Mike Warren and Kerry Hunting for their work in organising this month’s very successful event. Mike was also the author and presenter of the Hard Quiz (apologies to Tom Gleeson) which turned out to be hard enough for most of us, but not so for the team comprising Wolfgang and Regine Kasper and Jon and Kieren Gaul who were the winners on the day. Congratulations to Wolfgang, Regine, Jon and Kieren.
Our last event for this year will be the Annual Coupe d’Antibes and Christmas Party which will be held at Mandeni Park on Sunday, 27 November. For those among you who have never played pétanque (organised twice every month by Clive Roberts) I would urge you to come along and have a go. While there are some excellent players among us, most are complete novices like me but can still fluke the odd lucky shot. It can be a wonderful way of spending a few hours in very pleasant company. Could I urge you to note the date in your calendar and join us on the day if you can. Full details are set out below.

Amities, Rob McCombie 

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

From The President

Chers Amis
Spring has sprung and there has been a vast change in daytime temperatures and the look of our vegie gardens since our last edition of La Mouette. I hope that you are all looking forward to a relaxing summer break with family and friends.
The main items of news this edition are, firstly, the lunch with a French food flavour to be held at the Tura Beach Country Club on 19 October. Please save this date in your calendars and read more important information about it in Mike Warren’s article later in this edition. This will be our last function for the year before our Great-End-Of-Year-Coupe-d’Antibes and Christmas Party, details of which will be published over the next month or so.
Secondly, we take pleasure in announcing the appointment to the Committee of Anh-Thu Stuart who will be our Librarian. Anh-Thu’s appointment will relieve Kerry Hunting of the responsibility of being the only woman’s voice on the Committee and will bring new ideas to our work from her home in Bermagui.

Robert McCombie

Saturday, September 9, 2017

President's AGM Report 2017

2016/17 was a successful and busy year for the Alliance Francaise de la Cote de Saphir.
First and last on the Alliance Francaise calendar each year is the activity patronised most regularly by members and guests and which allows members to share each others’ company and stories about recent overseas visits.  I speak, of course, of the bi-monthly Petanque games at Mandeni Park ably organised by Clive Roberts.  We owe a debt of gratitude to Clive for his tireless work in organising this important activity.
Each year ends with Petanque Grand Final, a battle better known to us all as the annual Coupe d’Antibes.  It takes place in late November and provides us with the opportunity to hold our annual Christmas Party and BBQ. It’s always amazing how the combination of a few glasses of French bubbly, the hot Australian sun, the shimmering sandy piste and a set of heavy steel balls brings out the competitive spirit in even the mildest souls.
Our other social activities in 2016 began as always with food.  On 23 October we had our first dinner celebrating French food and the food of former French colonies with a Cajun Lunch at the Wharf Restaurant.  This function was well attended and Secretary Mike Warren prepared a Cajun trivia quiz to entertain us whenever we were not actually eating.
In late February Mike and Lilias Warren generously hosted the 2017 Alliance Francaise Welcome Party at their home at Tura Beach.  Weather forecasts for the evening were all doom and gloom and we were prepared for the worst.  However, the evening of Saturday, 18 February, provided us with wonderful weather to enjoy the huge feast made possible by all of those who brought an amazing array of entrees, mains and desserts.
We had our first film night for the year in March and viewed ‘La Famille Belier’, a touching story about a young girl growing up in a family in which both parents had a hearing disability.  Over 30 people attended and enjoyed the film immensely.  26 of those attending went on to the Top Pub for dinner afterwards.  A second French film.  ‘Rosalie Blum’ was offered in August and was enjoyed by an even greater number of our members.  Our French film nights have become a significant event in our annual calendar of events.
Thursday, 22 June, saw members of the Alliance trooping yet again into the Warrens’ residence; this time to take part in the tasting of 6 French wines presented by Brent Mackay of Amazing Grapes.  The event was well patronised by 18 members and 10 non-members who showed their appreciation by making a good number of orders for the wines offered.
The annual Bastille Day dinner which is our flagship event for the year was held at the Tura Golf Club on Saturday, 15 July.  This event was a resounding success with over 90 members and guests attending.  A trivia quiz was presented by Greg Hunting who awarded bottles of French wine to the winners, and Mareta Collins led us all in a hearty rendition of La Marseillaise.  The evening finished with a good number of our group getting up and dancing to a selection of French music provided by Hilaire Alba.
But our Alliance is not only about eating good food and tasting good wines; we are also serious about learning and maintaining our French language.  A French conversation group is in its infancy and meets every Friday morning at 11.00am at the Tura Marang Library.  The purpose of the group is to provide an opportunity for fluent speakers to catch up and to keep those rusty wheels turning.  The group is open to all who are able to participate in fluent French conversation.  For those who are not fluent but wish to improve their French, or begin to learn, we provide resources through our collection at the Tura Marang Library.  Former committee person, Julie Welsh, organised the removal of our library from the Pambula Pool premises to the newly established Tura Marang.  This not only saved our collection of books, CDs and magasines from a mouldy lingering death on the pool premises but made them much more accessible to members, especially those living in the Merimbula/Tura area.  I would like to recognise Julie’s considerable efforts in dealing with Bega Shire staff and bringing this move to a successful completion.
We also seek to stimulate interest in learning French by awarding prizes to students in French at the South Coast Anglican College.

May I conclude by noting that membership of our Alliance is on the increase and that attendance by both members and non-members at our events is growing.  I believe that we are in this rather happy position because we are keen to learn what the members want and find the best way to provide that to them.  More importantly however, is that we have a committee of skilled and active people who do what they do well and freely.   May I take this opportunity to thank Secretary, Michael Warren, Treasurer, Kerry Hunting, Editor-in-Chief of La Mouette and maestro of Petanque, Clive Roberts, and committee members Mike Quinlan and Hilaire Alba for all of their work over the last 12 months. 

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

From The President

A big thank you to all 92 of our members and their guests who attended our annual Bastille Day dinner at the Tura Beach Country Club. This is the biggest attendance we have had for many years and probably the biggest ever. 
The Tura Beach Country Club provided a great venue and a wonderful menu which was enjoyed by all. With Mike Warren as MC and Greg Hunting as quiz master the evening was lively but relaxed and bottles of French wine found their way to the fortunate few who had an amazing knowledge of French history and culture.  Mareta Collins was in good voice and led us all in delivering a rousing rendition of La Marseillaise. A special thanks needs to go to Treasurer Kerry Hunting for her work in organising the event and to other committee members who assisted.
It’s that time of year again and we are holding our Annual General Meeting at the Infuse Restaurant in the Tura Shopping Centre on Monday, 4 September. I urge you all to come along if you can.  As Mike pointed out on Bastille Night, we are looking for new committee members.  We would like to have a person interested in looking after our modest library and acting as our historian. We would also like additional ladies on the Committee as Kerry is on her own at the moment. Further input on behalf of the feminine members of Alliance would be most welcome.  Please think about what you can bring to the Club ladies. Committee meetings are held monthly and last only about an hour so please think about putting your hand up. However, even if you don’t feel you are able to join the committee we would like you to come along and enjoy a meal with us at Infuse.

Rob McCombie

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

From the President ‘en France’

Chers Amis
Our first port of call in Europe was Geneva and we were so impressed by the city and Lac Leman that I feared that I had made a big mistake and that French countryside would suffer by comparison. That was until we arrived in Annecy. Annecy is also located on a lake but the medieval buildings and streets of the old city, the confusion of shops, cafes and restaurants, and the clean fast flowing river which runs right through the centre give the place a charm and beauty which is hard to describe. We stayed in an ancient hotel overlooking (overhanging?) the river and were up early each morning for a walk along the lake foreshores followed by coffee and croissants for breakfast. The food in restaurants was well priced and so good that we will spend the first month back in Australia on a diet to lose all of the weight we have put on. Next stop was Bourg d'Oisans and the famous Alpe d'Huez for a bit of bike riding. Lost some of that weight! We are currently in Bergerac, a beautiful town in the Dordogne staying in a b & b built in the 17th century. With its creaking floors and low ceilings and crude structure you think you have been transported back to the times of Charles Dickens. Again the food is stunning. Maybe we'll have to go back to Huez. Photos of Annecy streetscape, our Annecy hotel, top of Alpe d'Huez, Bourg d'Oisans streetscape and our b&b in Bergerac are shown in the June 2017 edition of La Mouette. Next stop is Bordeaux then on to the UK.

Amities, Robert

Thursday, May 4, 2017

From the President

Chers Amis
I would like to send a big thank you to all who came along to see our French film La Famille Bélier.  The film lived up to the excellent reports we read about it and everyone enjoyed it immensely.  Refreshments were served to members and their guests on arrival and this provided a good opportunity to chat and meet new members.
Early in the month we had our second meeting of the French conversation group at the Tura Library.  Wolfgang provided an impromptu talk on renovations being carried out on an historic building in France.  The work being carried out includes all of the traditional trades including stone masonary, blacksmithing and carpentry and is done by volunteers using tools and work methods employed by the artisans who constructed the original building.  A big thanks to Wolfgang for a fascinating talk.  Next Friday morning Mareta will be giving us a talk about the history of early European settlement on the NSW South Coast.
Our next big event will be dinner at Ritzy’s at the end of May but unfortunately I will miss this as I will be en vacances in France.  More details about the dinner are provided below.  I wish you all well as winter sets in on the South Coast as I head off to Spring in France!

Amities, Robert McCombie

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