Boules – (Sunday 9th July 2023)

Photo: Eileen French, Words: Jane Cocking

Some 30 FOM members enjoyed our annual Sunday Boules event.   Thanks to a team of committee members beforehand the pitch was cleared and weeded to provide us with a smooth ‘court’ for our tournament.

People arrived armed with their picnic gear and settled down to enjoy the afternoon.  We had the usual concerns about ‘would the rain hold off’ but the weather was on our side – just – and picnickers sat and enjoyed their refreshments inbetween their stints on the pitch.  

Ten teams played together and after some fierce competition, Penny and Moira were the winners and proudly took the trophy, which looks as splendid as ever despite its advanced years. 

Pique-nique – Eastry (Sunday 11th June 2023)

Photos: Sarah Kahan

Intensive English Weekend (23rd – 25th March 2023)

Words: Jane Christie

For the first time since 2019 we were delighted to welcome our “amis” for the Intensive English weekend. On 23rd March 18 French guests arrived in Ealing in time for lunch before embarking on their studies in the afternoon. This was followed, as usual, by awelcome reception in the Mayor’s parlour. Lessons continued throughout Friday and on Saturday morning. The “students” I spoke to were full of praise for their teachers and had found the course both enjoyableand instructive.
Over the weekend, our hosts and guests had plenty of time to catch up with old friends, form new friendships and enjoy talking another language – all of which, of course, underpin our town twinning. For those so inclined, Saturday afternoon provided an opportunity for visits to museums and galleries (the V&A and Pitzhanger Gallery seemed to be popular destinations) or Kew Gardens. The weekend came to a close with a convivial meal at the Golf Club which was well-attended by FOM members as well as the participants.

Paris Weekend (25th – 28th November 2022)

An eclectic selection of photographs from Derek & Eileen French and Norman Hasker.

Words: Jane Christie

At the end of November, a party of 35 set off for Paris – our first winter city trip since 2019. Thankfully, our journey was seamless and on arrival we headed for our hotel which was a short distance from the Gare du Nord. On the first morning Norman led a group through the charming Covered Arcades which were built at the beginning of the 19th century to give pedestrians protection from the mud and horse-drawn vehicles. The walk finished near the Jardin des Tuileries where there was an opportunity to explore one of the few Christmas markets open during our stay. We were free to follow our own itineraries throughout the weekend, and unsurprisingly art galleries and museums were high on the list. Most people ventured to some of the newer or less frequented destinations.
Among these were:
• The refurbished Musée Carnavalet covering the history of Paris.
• Les Archives Nationales, where there was an exhibition chronicling th history of epidemics and their impact on French Society from the Black Death to present times.
• Hôtel de la Marine, originally the home of the royal Garde-Meuble (the office managing the furnishing of all royal properties) which was taken over by the French Navy during the Revolution and has recently been restored and transformed to its 17th century magnificence.
• For fashion aficionados there was the Musée Yves St Laurent where examples of the renowned couturier’s work can be seen in the premises of his former haute couture house.
It was a pleasure to wander through well-known as well as lesser-known areas of the city, soaking up the atmosphere, enjoying the views and stopping off for coffee or lunch along the way. A few of our group managed to fit in visits to the opera, enjoying work by Offenbach and a performance of the Marriage of Figaro.
With thanks to Liz and Beatrice for once again organising such a memorable weekend.

Wine Tasting (18th November 2022)

Photo: Sarah Kahan, Words: Jane Christie

Our first “live” tasting since 2019 was presented by Sandy Leckie, a professional wine educator and also a FOM member. Sandy gave as the title of his presentation “Good Bordeaux Doesn’t Have to be Expensive”. With prices ranging from £10 – £12 this was indeed borne out by his selection from The Wine Society, M&S and Majestic. We tasted two reds, 3 whites (including a Crémant and a
sweet wine) and a rosé. These came from across the Bordeaux region, extending around the Garonne, Gironde and Dordogne rivers.
Sandy explained that Bordeaux is not ideal for organic wine production due to the amount of moisture in the air. However, steps are being made towards sustainable viticulture with the introduction of new grapes (such as Marselan) which are more suited to higher temperatures and have better resistance to rot and mildew. The treat of the evening was a 2003 Margaux which Sandy generously shared with us, having bought it “en primeur” – ie before being bottled and released onto the market – and which he has had stored for 20 years!
To finish, a couple of helpful tips for buying wine:
• Look for the “en primeur” offers. For Bordeaux these usually appear around Easter.
• Select wines which are designated “Côte de …” These cover all styles and are good examples of the region they come from.
With thanks to Sandy for a very instructive and enjoyable evening.

Remembrance Sunday (13th November 2022)

This year’s Remembrance Sunday commemoration was held on Ealing Green just in front of the War Memorial. Friends of Marcq-en-Baroeul and Les Amis d’Ealing were represented by Sarah Kahan and Christian Picaud respectively.

Walking Weekend (7th – 9th October 2022)

Photos: Norman Hasker, Words: Jane Christie

Our walking weekend was based, as last year, in one of the lovely East Kent towns – last year it was Margate, this year Ramsgate. There were 20 participants from Ealing and we were delighted to welcome back 7 of our “amis” who were able to join us this year. After relaxing over afternoon tea at our hotel – once again Kathryn chose a seafront hotel with splendid views – we met up with our local resident and guide Cilla who is also an Ealing resident known to many of us. She led a most informative walk around the harbour starting at the Royal Victoria Pavilion which holds a commanding position on the seafront. Built in 1903 in the style of a Robert Adam orangery, it is a Grade II listed building which used to serve as a theatre and concert hall but is now a Wetherspoons! Due to its proximity to mainland Europe, Ramsgate has been the chief embarkation point both during the Napoleonic Wars and for the Dunkirk evacuation in 1940. Today the harbour is given over mainly to yachting marinas as well as a declining number of fishing vessels. On Saturday the “main event” was a walk, as usual expertly led by Norman, along the clifftop to Broadstairs. We enjoyed beautiful views of the cliffs and of the lovely sandy beach of Viking Bay. We certainly could not have asked for better weather with blue skies and sun all the way. There was plenty of time in Broadstairs to explore the many interesting buildings and shops or look at some of the places associated with Charles Dickens who visited here many times during his lifetime. Well situated above the harbour is “Bleak House” which was Dickens’s summer retreat and next to our lunch stop (in the Charles Dickens Pub of course!) stands the house whose owner was the inspiration for David Copperfield’s Betsey Trotwood and is now home to a museum which many of us visited after lunch. Norman led an inland walk back to our hotel, although some opted instead to walk back along the coast.

Pique-nique at Etaples and Cormont

Words: Dennis McEldowney

Despite the cruelty of the early hour – the coach left at 7am on the Friday morning – the group were in buoyant spirits as we set off for Etaples. I was struck by how just a few miles across the channel there is a quite different culture, the buildings – especially the little cafes – the language, le paysage. Through Covid and Brexit we’ve been cut off from that. Some of us visited the Etaples Military Cemetery, where there are 11,500 war graves. Etaples had an efficient rail link to the battlefields in World War 1, and the wounded could be transferred quickly. The rows lead up the hill to the beautiful memorial designed by Edwin Lutyens.
Off on Saturday to the village of Cormont. Le pique-nique was held outside, with a long, long table near the medieval-looking hall. The food from both sides was scrumptious and plentiful, including lashings of delicious vegetarian dishes. The conversation was lively, the surroundings were like some idealised rustic scene that you might see in a film set in a rural utopia. Except that this was real: the richness of the vegetation, cows lazing in the nearby field, sheep munching on the hilltop. And the village church which, I am informed, goes back to the 12th century. Dominating the area behind the altar is an effigy of St Michel (yes, not St George), slaying a dragon-like creature.
Our leaders, Roger and Sarah, led us with clarity and conviviality and our two drivers, Ray and Bill, were highly competent and safety-conscious. It was by far the best pique-nique I’ve been on, and several in our group said similar. That it was so good was largely due to superb organisation by Pascale, Roger, Gillian and Joanne. I for one appreciate the time, and the organisational and digital skills that went into creating the trip and seeing it through.

Boules 15th July 2022

Words: Gillian Scarborough

Boules is cool! The grand annual Boules event celebrating 14th July … on Sunday 17th July. And yes, it was another relaxed and happy afternoon on the Lammas Park Enclosure boules pitch – an afternoon of meeting up with friends, picnicking beneath the trees and with the usual tensions of who would win the magnificent trophy!
However, a few days before, when the Committee met to finalise arrangements, the weather forecast had been dire – temperatures were predicted to climb into the dangerous higher 30’s. Should we postpone it? After much discussion it was decided to go ahead and encourage members to come even if it were just for the picnic beneath the trees. So, numerous volunteers spent hot Friday and Saturday mornings weeding the pitch, which, because of the drought, was fortunately a bit easier this year, and on Sunday afternoon the boules paraphernalia and participants all moved to the shadier South side under the trees. At about 1.30pm play began. The sky had clouded over, a breeze sprang up and although it was certainly hot, it was bearable for a game or two before retreating to shade, food and a natter! The event was well attended and included a non-playing photographer who stayed to the very end to catch the winners being presented with the trophy by Sarah, our President. The winners were (another) Sarah and Frederic, after tense last games and arcane calculations by Roger to ensure there was no doubt. They were worthy winners – Fred had honed his expert style as a youth in France.
A big thank-you to everyone – weeders, organisers and participants – for making it such a memorable occasion again.