August 28, 2003

Dinard

So – here I am two days after returning from ‘La Belle France’ and nothing written for the website. Reason being, I only arrived home very late on Tuesday, and spent yesterday hung up with a client’s computer that had decided that life was not worth living. Not so for me - I have had a most incredible weekend.
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Chez Frankel - La Hulotte

I arrived in St Malo at 0800 and was met at the Gare Maritime by my long lost cousin Ron Frankel. Well not really lost, because we have been in email correspondence for some 3-4 years but had never met. Ron had been the British Consul in Dinard for some 20 years up to last September when he retired and, by gosh, had some great tales to tell. I must say that any story sounds much better over a glass of good wine, and Ron and his wonderful wife Laurette certainly made sure that the ‘fuel was on tap’.
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Ron and Laurette

Unfortunately a brother-in-law of Laurette had died that morning which put a slight damper on the day, but I was fascinated by the story of this great man.
His name was Alexandre Wattebled known during the war as ‘Jacques l’ami d’ Achille’ and believe me never was the expression ‘Nom de Guerre’ more fitting! I think I will save the full story of Alex for a special article when I am in possession of more facts.

Dinard is a beautiful town, much favoured by the British over the years, and Ron and Laurette made sure I saw plenty of it.

Sunday was very interesting as it was the one day of the year when the entire population – or so it seems – takes a stall along all the streets of the town to sell anything and everything. This is ‘La Braderie’ a melange of craft stalls, brick-a-brack and erstwhile boot sale left overs.
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La Braderie & The Casino

The town also has a promenade for its entire length known as the promenade Claire de Lune, as this was where Claude Debussy wrote his famous oeuvre. After walking around the Braderie stalls I walked about three miles to the suburb of St Enogat before returning to Chez Frankel for sustenance and – would you believe it – more wine. Minnesota Jim; please note, I did remain upright most of the time.

The beach tents of Dinard are very famous and have appeared in many well-known paintings by various artists.
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The Beach Tents

As I look back on the time I spent in Dinard, I realise that it did not matter where I was. I was with two new members of my family, and all I wanted to do was to learn everything about them. I came to the conclusion that Ron and I are very similar people except that he has more hair than I do. There I go again, off on one of my pet subjects! We like the same wines, we have similar political views (no comment) and we certainly enjoy the same wines. Add to all of these attributes a delightful lady, and you can see that it would have been impossible not to enjoy my time there.

Laurette, it is my pleasure to publicly announce that you are a wonderful lady, and I wish I had met you and Ron a long time ago.

‘A Bientot’ to you both and I hope we can all get together again soon – this time with Nina.
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Not true! - She switched the bottles

Posted by jeff at 08:52 PM | Comments (3)

August 11, 2003

The Music Group

Today, being the second Monday in the month, it was the meeting of the Music Group. This is usually held at the flat of Mary Bourne, and we are all very grateful to her for that.

This month Mary had kindly arranged for a friend to come along and talk to us about the life and works of Edvard Grieg.

Coincidence must be following me, as after the experience at Chilford on Saturday, the last thing I expected was to meet a face from over 50 years ago. Wrong again, Sedley Old Boy! Our speaker David Sames and his wife Marion (Harris) were both at school with Nina and me at Wanstead County High School. They are also in touch with several other 'Old Heronians', and memories were rife. Who said nostalgia isn’t what it used to be?

David’s talk, together with the music of Grieg was quite fantastic and I shall certainly listen to his works with a much deeper interest in future.

Thank you Mary for arranging such an interesting meeting – for me - in more ways that one!

Posted by jeff at 08:47 PM | Comments (1)

August 10, 2003

Chilford Hall Vineyard

It is such a pleasure to be able to sit at the computer and report yet another great trip. This time it was with a group of 50 members of the EFU3A to the vineyards & winery at ChilforHall near Linton in Cambridgeshire. As it has already passed the witching hour; I have to report that this happened last night.

My first comment is a resounding ‘Thank You’ to Annette Chesher for organising it and being able to remind us what menu we had ordered.

I think that the only disappointment I felt was to find that they do not tread the grapes with sweaty feet. After all, what gives a wine a better ‘earthy’ flavour? Then again, I suppose it is understandable as they grow German grapes and produce white wine. Speaking for myself, as much as I think I know about wine, I am very ignorant about the English variety. Here at Chilford they have 18 acres of vines and produce wine from seven different vaieties of grape that is even exported to France and California!
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Our vineyard guide Anna & vInes

The vineyard was established in the 1960s by Mr Sam Alper, which gave me another surprise, as my parents were great friends of his brother Henry. For those of you who follow horse racing – Henry Alper was the owner of that great horse Persian War.
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The Alper family residence at Chilford Hall

After a tour of the winery, we had a tasting covering six different wines and followed that with a delightful meal.

It was very noticeable that there were 50 smiling faces boarding the coach for home with many carrying bags and boxes of “Local Produce”! I will savour my purchases sitting on the patio during the current hot spell. Can you think of a more pleasant way to pass an evening hour or so?

Posted by jeff at 12:57 AM | Comments (2)

August 05, 2003

A Visit to Lille

Yesterday Nina and I went to Lille for the day, by Eurostar on a special offer through the “Times” for £25 each. Who can resist such an offer?

We caught the 1029hrs from Waterloo which, allowing for the 1 hour time difference got us to Lille at 1345hrs, only 18 minutes late after leaving on time.

The temperature throughout the day did not drop below 32°C and lunch in the Place De Gaulle was a delight. Lille is the birthplace of General De Gaulle, Wartime resistance leader and founder of the Fifth Republic. The man who turned his back on the UK after having availed himself of our hospitality throughout the war.

The Old Town is a revelation and its architecture is a wonderful mix of French and Flemish styles.
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Direction sign to the "Vieux Ville"

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General view of the Grande Place (Pl. General de Gaulle)

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Place Gilleson

In the latter part of the afternoon we took a bus tour of the city in general, that got us back to the city centre in time for a meal and a slow walk back to the station for the 2039hr train. Would you believe it – on time and only 3 minutes late at Waterloo at 2145hrs. Home by 2300, too early to turn into pumpkins!

When I was a child, a day trip might be to Southend (30 miles) if we could summon up all the courage and sandwiches before 0930! This was a great day and great value. We will keep scouring the “Times” for more offers.

Posted by jeff at 02:23 PM | Comments (1)

August 01, 2003

A New Judge

Congratulations to our dear friends Jackie & Ron. How proud they must be having seen their son, Howard, sworn in as a District Judge this morning, with chambers at Ilford County Court. Our very best wishes to them and to Howard and Karen with Matthew and Zoe. We are sure he will be a Solomon incarnate.
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Jackie, Howard & Ron - (Love the hair style Howard)

Posted by jeff at 02:53 PM | Comments (0)