Our AGM this year took place in the pleasant golfing environment of the Villeneuve-sur-Lot club, courtesy of our treasurer Pip. Marion has sent minutes to all members. Together with the reports presented, these record a successful year, changes to the committee, and a look forward to next year. Nearly thirty members and partners also enjoyed a very agreeable luncheon in stimulating and convivial company. Thanks to Marion (her last AGM as secretary, but still with us on the committee) and Pip for the organisation.
Our group of 30 visited Josephine Baker’s Chateau des Milandes on 26th June, courtesy of Tony Tucker. A fascinating tour of this 15th century Chateau, restored in the 20th century after centuries of disuse, and home of the American-born entertainer Josephine Baker from 1937 to 1968 was followed by lunch and a well-presented display of predatory birds. Josephine Baker’s story is well documented, but still remarkable as a major stage star in revues of the 20s and 30s, who then used her wealth extravagantly and immensely generously at Milandes, modernising the village and adopting eleven children. Then as a member of the French Secret Service in World War II she earned the Legion d’Honneur, and became a major participant in Civil Rights demonstrations in the 1960s. The I-Spy prize goes to Richard O’Neill for spotting the pocket-free ‘Irish’ billiard table’ and the raptor photography prize goes to Pip Kirby.
Richard O’Neill (Treasurer) kindly organised our visit to Albi on 17th May. Given the dismal May weather, our group of 16 were blessed by a sunny, rain-free day, starting inside, of course, with a fine lunch at La Temporalité, itself sandwiched in between the Cathedral and the newly-extended Toulouse-Lautrec Museum. We were detained longer than perhaps expected by this artist’s extraordinary draughtsmanship. The massive exterior of the Cathedral (supposedly the largest brick building in the world) didn’t seem particularly beckoning, but the interior is as rich as the exterior is austere. It has a particularly compelling representation of hell (and above) and amazingly well-preserved 16th-century painted vaulting and chapels. The boat-trip on the Tarn would have been positively dangerous given the state of the river after our May rains, but it didn’t really matter. A splendid day out: see our snapshots below.
Our Chairman, John Baylis, and Treasurer, Richard O’Neill attended the European Reunion for alumni in Madrid. Photo courtesy of Jo Whiting. John is also seen at the Trinity College dinner. This was hosted by Greg Timofiejew (Oxford and Cambridge Society of Poland and Oxford and Cambridge Dining Club of Geneva), seen to the right of John and left of Jackie Hruby, the Alumni Office organiser.
Friday 19th April saw 18 OUS members and guests assembling at Château Pierrail, near 33220 Margueron, for a tour of the well-designed gardens, the winery and tastings of the fine Bordeaux Superior wines produced here. Alice and Jacques Demonchaux took on this beautiful once-baronial 17 C residence with 70 hectares of vines in 1970 and today it is a magnificent private estate producing first-class wines sold to restaurants throughout Europe.
Among the party was OUS Branch Secretary from Perth, Australia, Roger Winwood, seen here with our Chairman John Baylis and Secretary Marion Tempé.
Lunch was enjoyed at the Relais de Monestier before most of us drove to Allemans du Dropt, there to be suitably impressed by the 15 C frescoes in the church of Saint Eutrope, then relax with a cup of tea chez Pip & Sue Kirby, whose house is but a stone’s throw away in the village.