These News & Views are scooped from around the world, What’s happening? What are people thinking? What would people like them to think? . . . and some of the amusing things that are going on today.
Dear Mon Oc
Last year I was in Vienna for a meeting to discuss the relocation of a piece of sculpture the city had bought 20 years before. The meeting didn’t take that long and I found myself with a lot of free time.
It was freezing cold as I walked around and I didn’t really have a warm enough coat. So when I passed the Albertina, I thought I would go inside. Once inside, I saw that the exhibition downstairs was of two tone woodcuts of the late Renaissance and early Baroque selected from the collections of the Albertina and of Georg Baselitz.
I didn’t know what to expect – I suppose something along the lines of the Durer woodcuts, which are included, but the rest were truly something else.
The size of some of the works was far beyond anything I would have expected from a wood cut – the largest was almost two metres long! The use of two colours from the same or additional block inflects the image in subtle ways, making it pulse with space and light.
I was captivated and stayed for three hours – what a wonderful surprise it was to discover a whole world of artwork that I had been unaware of!
And then I found out that the exhibition is coming to the Academy (15th March – 8th June) and I get to repeat my acquaintance.
This is a great exhibition and I want to encourage as many people as possible to discover it for themselves, it won’t come round again for a long time.
LGBT adults face unique challenges as they get older.
Studies show as they get older, Gay/LGBT seniors are at far greater risk than their straight peers for depression and isolation which may cause associated health problems. A recent survey of gay seniors living in San Francisco found that 58 percent of LGBT men and women age 60 or older live alone, compared with just 25 percent of straight older adults.
Older gay men and women are less likely than straight seniors to have children to depend on, either financially or emotionally. They’re also far less likely to be married and often don’t have a long-term partner.
Stories abound of Gay men and women who chose to hide their sexual orientation after living most of their lives in the open. This rather than face judgment or discrimination from the staff or residents of retirement communities.
It is not all “gloom”! There is an ideal and affordable choice. “Active Lifestyle” Retirement in the warmth of the South of France at “The Villages Group – Rainbow”. A sweet pension plan!
Management; all activities & entertainment program; full maintenance; weekly villa-cleaning controlled by the owners at just £56/$100/70 Euros per villa (if 2 people – £28/$50/35 Euros per person) per week.
Early Birds! for those a few years from “retirement” – secure a place now and enjoy first-class income – 100% fully guaranteed! - until you are ready to “move in”. Make money and look forward to the life of “style & fun” you deserve!
Why are you waiting?
For the past several years in August, a soccer club located in Lower Normandy: the “Reveil Saint Germain de Courseulles” has hosted a soccer tournament involving French teams hailing from the small towns and villages scattered along the D-Day invasion beaches.
This year, in response to the upcoming 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings on June 6th, a group of these clubs: the “Football Club Côte de Nacre” will be pushing the envelope significantly.
Having stumbled across an archive photo, taken by a war correspondent on July 14th, 1944, the management of the FCCN was inspired to host an International Liberty Tournament. This will assemble youth teams from the Lower Normandy region of France, the USA, Great Britain, Germany and Italy. Roughly one thousand football players ageing from 7-15 will come together for the first time in a series of friendly matches this June 7th and 8th. The importance of the dates, the nationality of the players and the underlying spirit of sport will make this tournament an occasion to remember for all who help perpetuate the memory of those who fought to free Europe from the Nazi movement.
This key photographic image portrays the British Royal Engineers along with the remains of the local French team in Courseulles, playing football on a soccer pitch today turned into car park. Further research brought up film footage stored in the archives of the Imperial War Museum in London, sparking enthusiasm for the tournament amongst local government officials. A call for visual witnesses brought to the surface the names of the players on both sides, as well as spectators recognizing themselves as children in the photos.
Such an undertaking involves a huge amount of work, not to mentions funds. The FCCN, being a nonprofit organization set about informing potential sponsors. To their delight the local, regional and national government is digging deep to help with funding and even more importantly, have declared the Liberty Tournament one of five official commemorative events for the 70th anniversary of D-Day. The French Minister of Sport: Valerie Fourneyron has confirmed her intent to be present this coming June 6th and 7th, showing her support of the efforts made by a group of dedicated volunteers.
As of today, teams from Fishbourne in the UK, the American School of Paris and the German Football Club Unterafferbach have reserved their spots for this historic weekend. A key note match will bring together an adult team made up of selected players from Luc sur Mer, Langrune sur Mer, Ver sur Mer and Courseulles playing against a team of British Royal Engineers. This match will reproduce the photographed match claiming to be one of the very first international soccer meets in recently liberated France.
Understandably, the organizers have high hopes for famous attendees. Several top name football personalities have been invited, as well as political personages from the White House and Buckingham Palace. A firm “Yes!” came from Michel Hidalgo, the former manager for the French National Team from 1976 -1985 who has taken a special interest in this sports venue as he vividly remembers hiding in caves used as fallout shelters in Mondeville near Caen in 1944 as a young lad.
Each player will walk away from this two day gala with a special booklet showing photos of the war time views of each participating town as well as the contemporary photos of the teams and their club logos. In addition, an exhibit tent will house an exposition related to the history of soccer in France, and the importance of sports in war time. This expo will later travel around France to further promote the foundation principles of youth, sports, remembrance and most especially, reconciliation. The FCCN hopes to provide a once in a lifetime experience for young people to meet with veterans, to share their cultures with kids of their own ages and exchange goodwill via sport.
You can find out more about this tournament on the Facebook page dedicated to the “Tournoi de la Liberté” or on their website: www.fccn.free.fr.
Through These Doors – The Manoir at Bout L’Abbé
by Diane Condon-Boutier
A fascinating story.
Those of us, who love old houses, will admit to standing in them, and wondering what tales the house could tell – if only it were possible.
This story, unusually, does just that, and the property in question is the Manoir at Bout L’Abbe in Normandy, France. A majestic building like this, set in its own grounds, would have many tales to tell, for such an imposing building, in times gone by, would need regular maintenance, staff to look after its grounds and animals, indeed, such a property would have supported, at one time, many workers.
The story begins in 1987, when young American, Debra, moves into the house with her French husband Phillippe. The house welcomes the happy newlyweds and in time children, however, over the years, things change with unforeseeable consequences…
However, a house of this age can look back a lot further than that, and earlier in the 20th Century, it had been occupied by German troops in WW2. In a fly on the wall way, the house gives the reader a fascinating glimpse into life in wartime France and through the lives of the Fournier family, we have a chance to perhaps understand a little of the emotional strains of war on the French.
The author has brilliantly described the beauty of the French countryside and its wonderful buildings. Through her historical research and attention to detail, she has produced a very interesting and totally absorbing book. Whether you are interested in France, the war, history, or just want to read a good story, I can thoroughly recommend this book.
Reviewed by Susan Keefe
Die in Paris: The true story of France’s most notorious serial killer
by Marilyn Z Tomlins
Wartime Paris and the life of a serial killer.
When we think of the war years our focus tends to be with the horrors of wartime battles, and it is easy to forget that for ordinary people in occupied lands other crimes still happened.
In Paris, under occupation, the French people remained strong. Their ability to keep quiet and forget incidents when convenient was very necessary, and the resistance managed to save many thousands of people because of this. However, under this cloak of secrecy, other crimes were committed, but none as horrendous as the mass murders committed by Dr. Marcel Petiot even now France’s most notorious serial killer.
This book is a thoroughly researched and an interesting study into the life of this serial killer. In its pages, we discover the making of the man, his relationships, and how he evolved into the cold, callous monster he became.
The detailed descriptions of life in Paris at this time and the thoughts and lives of its people make it a fascinating read for anyone with a love of wartime history.
In conclusion, this book makes you yearn to be able to wander down those same streets now, look at the locations and imagine being there then, stepping into the scenes which the author has so clearly laid before you.
Reviewed by Susan Keefe
by John Needham
A fascinating story of discovery spanning the 20th and 21st Centuries.
This story starts with Jay, standing in the church at the funeral of his Grandmother, June. After the wake, his Granddad offers him the opportunity to read his Grandmother’s diaries, which she has kept since she was a child.
That night, Jay and his partner Helen snuggle up together and open one of the journals….
As they begin turning the pages, they find themselves drawn back through the years to June’s childhood. But then another, parallel narrative appears: we are taken back two more generations to begin with June’s own grandmother. The story spans 105 years, and follows generations of the same family, down the female line, starting with Juniper, an attractive young woman who becomes a Governess in 1906. Her life, like so many others was moulded by circumstances beyond her control. When World War 1 started, everyone, including her boyfriend was sure it would be over by Christmas, but unfortunately, as we know it was not, and our glimpse into her life gives a wonderful insight into what living before, during and after the First World War was really like.
As the story progresses, I found it fascinating to read about the changes in attitudes, fashions and morals throughout the 20th and into the 21st Century.
At the end there is the opportunity to sample the authors debut novel ‘Convergence’, which is about Martin, one of the characters in this book.
This, in my opinion would make a good book for students of Modern History to read, or anyone interested in family life in the 20th and 21st Century. Within its pages you will find it all, love, life, birth death, the full gamut of emotions. At the very end there is a satisfying, surprise plot twist.
Available at Amazon.co.uk in Kindle format
Dear Mon Oc,
The Hockney Printmaker show has now been open for a month and the reaction by both the press and public has been simply wonderful. The Telegraph described it as ‘joyous’ and I have to say that just about sums it up. Hockney’s wit and humour light up every room.
Even more pleasing than the reviews have been the responses of the many people who left comments on leaving the show – it is heart-warming to know just how many Hockney fans are out there!
For those of you who haven’t yet been, Hockney Printmaker is a unique opportunity to review one of the longest and most diverse artistic careers in modern times. It took me four years to select just over one hundred works that show Hockney’s genius in all its guises.
Exhibits have been drawn from public and private collections all over the world and some are extremely rare – even unique. I hope anyone new to the field of printmaking will come away with an understanding of what makes it such a great medium, but even fans of Hockney and the technique will find surprises as well as old favourites. Tickets are available online. I hope you enjoy the show!
Hockney Curator and International Head of Prints at Christies
Celebrity sightings in the French Alps in February, including Paul McCartney and Leonardo DiCaprio, are a sign that the passion for skiing aroused by the Sochi Olympics has reached all levels of society, said ski property specialist Skiingproperty.com, adding that interest in purchasing a ski home is expected to rise this year too.
Not having the budget of a famous film or rock star means that most buyers of a home in the Alps will rent out their property to help cover its costs, whether they own a leaseback or classic freehold property.
Around eight out of ten people rent out their property in the Alps. For private lets, some resorts and types of properties will have better occupancy rates than others, so it’s vital to do your research and your target occupancy level – perhaps leaseback is the best option for you, perhaps not. Start by taking note of our four tips:
1) For maximum rental potential, buy in a dual season resort that has a short transfer, long winter season, good snow record and resort facilities, including ski school, and is linked to one of the larger skiing areas, such as the Three Valleys, Espace Killy or Portes du Soleil. Ski in ski out always lets best. Examples of resorts that tick these boxes include Tignes (Espace Killy), Courchevel (Three Valleys) and Les Gets (Portes du Soleil).
2) Leaseback is a hands-off way to own a ski property and derive fixed annual income from it. Leaseback developments, or résidences, and the on-site facilities that come with them are fully managed by tourism management companies – this means rental return for is rarely above 2 per cent and owners aren’t able to personalise their property as much as with a classic freehold. Buying a classic freehold ski home and letting it yourself would typically suit owners who need to maximise rental income. Using a local property management agency to manage bookings and changeovers is a popular option, although a commission typically of 20 per cent of earned rental income would need to be factored into the costs. It is advisable speaking to a local agency as part of your research. At least ten weeks occupancy should be achievable in the winter season, with eight in the summer, or ten in a year-round resort such as Chamonix.
3) When estimating your net income from rentals, remember that you will be liable for income tax in France on your net rental income, after deduction of the allowances applied under the relevant tax regime. You should also declare your French rental to the HMRC in the UK. However, the UK/France double taxation treaty gives relief for tax paid in France against liability to tax in the UK, so if your UK tax liability is greater than the tax payable in France, the difference is payable in the UK.
4) Many buyers will take advantage of the historically low interest rates available with French euro mortgages. This means it would make sense to receive rental income in euros, the same currency you would need to service your repayments, thereby not leaving you exposed to currency exchange rates.
5) Insurance and upkeep costs need to be factored in. Ensure your policy covers you for holiday lets and any associated liability. Meanwhile, if your property is part of a development with communal areas, you’ll have annual communal fees to pay, as well as France’s two types of council tax (Foncière and d’Habitation).
Skiingproperty.com has a selection of new-build property for sale, including leaseback and classic freehold, in established resorts throughout the Savoie and Haute Savoie regions of the French Alps.
Well Dear Reader, we certainly didn’t see Mademoiselle Alice when we visited Boullion Racine. (See Mon Oc’s June 2012 issue) Here she is presenting us with Reblochon. Whilst it originates in the Haute-Savoie, it’s available on all the cheeseboards across France and much further afield. In many ways it sums up French Cheese. It carries the coveted AOC endorsement.
It has a creamy soft texture with a nutty taste. And of course a Savoie white wine is ideal. Sister cheeses are Tomme de Savoie and Beaufort.
Historically it goes right back to the Middle Ages. Mountain farmers used to pay their taxes with milk. Being very savvy (no Haute-Savoire joke here please) they kept the best milk for themselves – and that where the cheese came from, and it explains the name. I wonder if Mademoiselle Alice was taught that Roblochon means “to pinch a cow’s udder again”, perhaps she’ll look at here stack of five in a different light now !
But on to Boullon Racine . . . a brilliant restaurant. The interior was boarded up when the Germans visited Paris in June 1940 for their five-year city break. The brasserie opened its doors in 1906 and so has a high-Art Nouveau decor.
Where food is concerned, the chef has selected a subtle blend of modern day and more traditional dishes. ‘With specialties like the suckling pig stuffed and spit roasted, boiled beef with vegetables, the risotto with scallops and shrimps, or the coffee from Liege, the waffle with crème brûlée with maple syrup… The Bouillon Racine invites you for a journey through time and senses’
We cannot recommend this establishment enough, it should be on everyone’s foodie bucket list.
Plants in the genus Narcissus include Daffodils, Jonquils, and Narcissus, and they get their genus name from the fable of Echo and Narcissus in Greek Mythology. Echo was a beautiful, but overly talkative nymph who was cursed by Juno so that she could no longer talk on her own, but only repeat the last few words of other’s sentences. Echo later fell in love with a very beautiful, but cruel and heartless young man named Narcissus who was incapable of loving anyone. When she was unable to get him to love her, Echo faded away with grief until nothing but her voice remained.
Because of his heartlessness toward Echo as well as toward the other nymphs who adored him, Narcissus was cursed so that he would know what it was like to love someone who could never return his affections. As he bent over a pool of water to get a drink, he gazed upon his own reflection there and immediately fell in love with it, thinking it the most beautiful being that he had ever seen. He tried to embrace his reflection, but each time he touched the water it cause a ripple, and his beloved would disappear.
Narcissus, consumed with unattainable love and forgetting all else, pined away over his reflection with the sorrowful Echo by his side until he eventually died. For his great beauty, Echo and the nymphs grieved for him, and his body was magically turned into a flower, the Narcissus, so that his great beauty would always be remembered.
And if you believe all that, you must be an ancient Greek and a fan of Ovid.
At the time of writing we have had an amazingly mild winter, and a wet one too although. But, so far everything in the garden is well advanced, almond blossom is much in eveidence as one drives around and I have just seen my first orchid in flower by the roadside. In general, March is a month when we have longer days and there is lots to do in the garden., especially after this mild weather!
Many plants will start to flower this month. Bulbs are always a favourite and bulbs which are native to the Mediterranean
region will always do well and can often be encouraged to naturalise in grass, two good examples of this are the southern European native Narcissus tazetta and Anemone coronaria, both illustrated here. Many lovely native shrubs are starting to flower and remind us just how many of these make excellent garden plants as well. One of my favourites is Globularia alypum, a small shrub to about 70cm it has wonderful blue flowers and loves a hot dry position.
Just a reminder that we still have a couple of places available on our gardening with Med natives course. The course will be held at La Petite Pépinière in Caunes-Minervois (11160) and will be tutored by Gill Pound, nursery proprietor. Course fees quoted include coffees, teas etc and you are asked to bring a packed lunch.
Gardening with Mediterranean native plants –Friday 4th April, 10 am to 4pm
There is increasing interest in gardening with Med basin native plants – as those most likely to be drought tolerant and to be good for wildlife gardening. This course will include a discussion relating to the Mediterranean climate and the adaptations shown by plants. We will then visit an area of garrigue countryside near Caunes for a 2/3km walk looking at native plants and their potential for the garden before returning to Caunes for further discussion about the use of native trees, shrubs etc in our gardens. Course fee: 45€
Many of you will be aware that during our advertised opening hours we are not exactly swamped with visitors and more and more of our sales are for specific projects and orders …. so, we are going to restrict our regular opening times to one weekend a month but will still always be available at any time for you to come and visit the garden, talk plants (and maybe even buy one) by appointment – just email or phone to organise a time. Regular opening times for the next few months will be 7/8/9 March, 11/12/13 April, 9/10/11 May, 6/7/8 June, after that we will review how things have gone. In addition our annual open weekend will be Sat 31st May and Sun 1st June, put it in your diaries now!
For further information contact Gill Pound at La Petite Pépinière de Caunes, 21, Avenue de la Montagne Noire, (route de Citou) 11160, Caunes-Minervois. Tel: 04 68 78 43 81, email Gill@lapetitepepiniere.com
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