July meeting: Chairman, Andrew Jurenko, welcomed 21 members and 6 guests for the first luncheon meeting for 16 months. A special gift was made to Ian Payne to recognise his work in keeping our Club alive during 16 months of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Editorial August 2021 — Vincent Fosdike
It was a truly heartwarming experience to attend the first post lockdown meeting of our club which hopefully signals a big step towards full normality. The turnout was good and enhanced by a good number of guests.
In this “break out edition” I have put a holiday item by Ian Payne complete with pictures with a view to lightening the mood still further.
Our special guest was our speaker Malcolm Newman. We were able to contribute £87 to Malcom’s 2021 charity, the Royal Marsden Hospital, Sutton.
And then a few humous anecdotes: Cinema ‘Closed – next showing Home Alone’; ‘Now taking loo role as payment’; Email – ‘Ding-dong Ding-dong Jehovah Witnesses working from home’.
Malcolm’s topic for the after-lunch meeting was ‘Perspectives of Covid’. He first talked about people experiencing difficulties, panic buying and project fear.
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La Grande Brière – by Ian Payne
In June, Andrew told us about their first campsite where everything was set up for you – today we call it glamping. It reminded me of our first glamping experience in 1972. Again, it was a method of trying it out and later led to our having our own complete camping outfit which took us all over Europe to Italy, Hungary and as far as Greece.
But back to 1972 and our first trial in Brittany. We took the ferry from Southampton to Le Havre and drove to our campsite near Guérande, a medieval town with fortified walls and impressive entrance through a large arch dwarfed by huge twin towers. But first we had to find our campsite – and there it was with rows of blue tents and our first experience of common washrooms – all quite functional and unpretentious. The campsite also offered a small shop for fruit and vegetables and camping equipment.
We were told about a large out-of-town hypermarket. This was amazing because at that time supermarkets hadn’t appeared in England and even help-yourself counters were limited to a few small shops. Apart from its size, my main memory of the hypermarket was of fruit and guns. I remember rows piled high with huge melons, but the big shock was to find all manner of rifles in a large display near the entrance. We bought a small tricycle for two-year-old Richard and he took to it straight away.
We visited Guérande and other towns and villages – La Baule with its 9-kilometre-long beach, a longer trip to the city of Saint-Nazaire, and closer by the fishing and tourism village of Le Croisic. Near Guérande there were massive salt farms where the sea water is let into large storage tanks and allowed to evaporate. At Le Croisic, we saw live crabs for sale. Why not? We could boil it on the small stove in our tent – but we had no experience of how to stun it. A blow to the head was only partially successful due to the shell getting in the way. I have this terrible memory of the poor crab trying to escape from the boiling water in a saucepan that was a little too small.
What else do you do when on holiday – boating! The map showed nearby, La Grande Brière, a large lake-like area with villages around – they must have boats for hire – let’s take a picnic with us. But there were only punts – narrow gondola-type with a raised platform at one end for the punter. It can’t be that difficult – they do it at Oxford and Cambridge. So there were Pauline and Richard in the bottom and me on the platform with pole, swaying uneasily from side to side. After going round in circles, I eventually got some control over direction, but all we saw were myriad passages lined with reed banks. Let’s try this one – it’s sure to lead to dry land for our picnic – but it didn’t. La Grande Brière is a big marsh. Pauline and Richard crouched ever lower – we were terrified – which passage leads us back. I had visions of Humphrey Bogart lowering himself into the water to tow the African Queen to safety.
We made it, but we’ve never been punting since.
The Duck that Never Was, (part 2) by Vincent Fosdike
Some of you may remember the item about the mysterious duck that was sighted in our local pond and which turned out to have been a very realistic fake. [See Bar Room Reminiscences from issue June no. 2]
Well it has gone! We had wondered what its long term fate was to be and who had put it there. It was some way out from the edge not readily accessible to a practical joker. It would have needed wading boots to place it there.
Yesterday a replacement was spotted at the other side of the pond, again well away from the shore. This one is a Mallard complete with delightful baby ducks! I should like to know who is testing the alertness of us strollers. Perhaps we should all be proud that a Probus member was not easily deceived.