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Festive feast

Suffice to say we were treated to another scrumptious repast as members battled to bring the tastiest dish to our bring and share pre-Christmas supper.  Thanks as always to Maggie and her team for the wonderful organisation. Penny did not let us down with her beautiful images of famous French squares 'Places' for the annual brain-teasing quiz which was won by our very own Tim Robins. 

As always the puddings were a feast for the eyes and perhaps we should really be suggesting a UK-wide 'Cercle bake-off' which we would be sure to win.  In all a wonderful evening and a great way to round off the year.






French ceramics in Ringwood

Work from five French potters from Les Communs Collectif de Ceramistes in Cormatin, Burgundy is on display as part of the Bettles Gallery Winter Collection. The exhibition and sale runs until 22 December at 80 Christchurch Road on Tuesday to Saturday from 11am to 4pm.


A delightful musical evening

We were fortunate to be joined in November by Rachel Lewington who is quite an authority on the glittering Salons of fin-de-siecle Paris.

Musical Salons were held at the end of the 19th Century in the private homes of well-to-do ladies including the Princess de Polignac and the Comtesse Greffuhle. The princess was in fact an heir to the Singer sewing machine fortune who had married into the aristocracy.  The two ladies were friends and used their influence and charm to bring together aspiring composers, empresarios and music lovers at the weekly gatherings.  The gossip columns of the printed press never failed to report who was there!

The Salons featured performances by as yet little known composers such as Debussy, Satie, Faure and Ravel.  The Princess de Polignac, who both painted and played piano herself, was a fan of their music which was very avant-garde at the time.  She was instrumental in establishing the careers of composers and performers through her early patronage and commissions.  

Rachel illustrated her talk with many paintings and photographs bringing the fashions and architecture of the era to life.  She also selected delightful music from a range of contemporary composers including another well-known Paris socialite with American links; Cole Porter.


Rachel and Charles Lewington with photographs (L to R) of the Princess de Polignac and husband and the Comtesse de Greffuhle

Composition by Reynaldo Hahn a popular Venezuelan-born composer and songwriter.


Pétanque on the lawn

At long last the weather smiled on us and we ended off the season in July with a light-hearted boules evening outdoors under the famous Greyfriars tree.  As usual hidden talents were revealed and members demonstrated considerable flair as they attempted to keep the boules on the lawn!


Treasures of the Russell-Cotes

David Beardsley is fascinated by the collection of artworks and objects that Merton Russell-Cotes and his wife Annie stuffed into East Cliff Hall and then bequeathed to the people of Bournemouth.  David has been a guide at the Russell-Cotes Museum and Gallery for two years and researched into the display and the archives to uncover some famous and less well known items with a French connection for his talk.



The museum makes no secret of the fact that sometimes Merton appears to have favoured commerce over quality and the collection contains items of dubious origin.  David brought Merton to life with anecdotes about his acquisitions and his impressive rise in social standing.


In thanking the speaker Judy Sheppeard exclaimed that on her next visit on she would see things in a different light. Members who are as yet unfamiliar with the Russell-Cotes will be able to enjoy David's evocation of the collectors when they visit the collection.  The venue and charming cafe is open Tuesday to Sunday and Bank Holiday Mondays and it's possible to buy an Annual Pass or become a Friend to support this unique local institution.  


Du vin, du pain...

We welcomed back Graham Sims from New Forest Wines in April to continue our educational journey into the mysteries of wine production.  Graham selected three whites and three reds for us to compare including a new world wine from Argentina and one from southern Italy.  As always opinion was divided but everyone found something to suit their palete.




Scrumptious Festive Supper



Maggie reprised her role as event organiser extraordinaire and treated group members to a wonderful evening.  Everyone contributed a dish, either savoury or sweet, to the shared buffet and the tasty delights stretched as far as the eye could see.  Penny supplied delightful seasonal table decorations and we bathed in the romantic glow of our battery powered candles while David said a few words to welcome everyone. 

Common sense then prevailed and we switched the lights back on so we could see what there was to eat!  The conversation soon drowned out the background music as we washed down the trifle with some well chosen wines. It's safe to say that a good time was had by all.  Bravo et merci a tous.



 November's illustrated talk on the Fete du Piment

Christine Barsky dressed in her Basque beret and espadrilles to show us her super photos of the annual red pepper festival in Espelette.  We also saw some of the same characters that she had captured on a YouTube video.  Food, music and joie de vivre in abundance - no wonder the festival attracts over 20,000 people every October.


Conversation avec Tim Robins

Don't miss the start of the season with the first conversation group on Friday 22 September. The group is a light-hearted mix of conversation and grammar and is led by local professional French tutor Tim Robins. It's a very friendly group for all levels and everyone is welcome to share their views on the issues of the day. Suitable for those who are getting ready to try out their skills on a trip to France and for those who used to be confident but are feeling a little rusty. Tim is guaranteed to inspire and encourage you to dig deep for that vocabulary and polish up your grammar! For more information about Tim and his activities please visit his website.


Milonga at the Mayflower

If you've been bitten by the tango bug don't mix this exciting show in Southampton at the Mayflower Theatre on 30 and 31 May:


Dance Consortium presents a Sadler's Wells Production
Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui

Deeply rooted in Argentinean culture, tango has fascinated and captivated the world with its sexuality, power and beauty.

Internationally celebrated choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui collaborates with an incredibly talented cast of Argentinean dancers and live musicians to create a show that brings his own unique style to tango.

M¡longa is the term for a tango dance party. Inspired by the late night m¡longa scene held in the intimate bars of Buenos Aires, Cherkaoui draws on traditional influences and adds a contemporary twist. The result is a seductive and fascinating exploration of tango for the 21st century.



Ringwood Twinning

There are two events coming up at The Meeting House. An exhibition from 15 - 27 May and a concert by Musique a Trois on 17 May at 7pm (tickets (£8) which promises an evening of French chansons, jazz and comedy! Visitors from Pont-Audemer will be in town from Thursday 25 - Sunday 28 May.  On Friday they will visit Kingston Lacy and on Saturday spend the day with their host families.  Check the website for latest updates.



Fordingbridge Twinning

Visitors from Vimoutiers in France as well as residents of twin towns in Belgium and Germany will be in town on 27-28 May. To find out more and get involved see the website.

The annual Boules Evening is planned for 6 July at Sandy Balls. Arrival at 6.15 for registration and 'boules off!' at 6.30.



Degas to Picasso

Don't miss this wonderful exhibition at the Ashmolean in Oxford until 7 May.

It is called "Degas to Picasso" - Creating Modernism in France
and includes works by Matisse, Manet, Chagall, Renoir, Degas, Léger and Picasso.




First Tango in Paris

Club members revealed their hidden talents at last month's meeting when dancers Brian and Annina joined our evening of Cafe Theatre and invited the audience to try a few steps of Argentine Tango. Brian (ISTD, IDTA, UKA) and Annina have been teaching dance in Ringwood for over 12 years. Along with Argentine Tango they also teach  Ballroom, Latin, Salsa, Sequence and Line dancing. So if watching Strictly is giving you itchy feet you know who to call...Brian on 07718 031425.






Jour de Fete and other film treats

Jacques Tati's 1949 classic film is showing at the Colosseum in Westbourne on Tuesday 13 September at 7.30pm.  In French with English subtitles. Always telephone for more details or to reserve seats 01202 769020. On Friday 16 September at 12noon is Coco before Chanel (2009) in English with Audrey Tatou. Thursday 6 October will be a supper club night screening cult film Le Grand Bleu (1988) with Jean Reno. Friday 14 October at 2.30pm sees Audrey Tatou again in Amelie (2001). Friday 21 October at 2.30pm is the ground breaking La Haine (1995). On 1 November at 7.30pm will be The Hundred Foot Journey, set in France and starring Helen Mirren.


Exhibition at the Meeting House

Ringwood and District Twinning Association are holding a photographic display of Pont-Audemer throughout September.  The photographs are courtesy of Ringwood Camera Club and Twinning Association members.  Members of the Association will be present to chat about their visits to the charming town.


Entente Cordiale at Crowe Hill WI

In July we provided the quiz questions for a French themed evening at the meeting of the local WI group in Crowe Lane.  There was as you might expect a culinary emphasis to the questions and members scored highly on their knowledge of terms we have adopted into the British kitchen such as bain marie and crepe suzette.  A Cercle committee member attended as volunteer quizmaster and was rewarded with tasters of freshly baked garlic biscuits during the evening competition.


RMDS Choir trip in Stagetalk

Ringwood Musical and Dramatic Society's Stagetalk magazine has a write up by Pam Raymond of the second RMDS choir visit to Pont Audemer which took place in June.  The highlight of the weekend was a concert where the local choir began the programme and the visiting choir finished the evening.  The talented RMDS members under the direction of Ivy Tan sang 'Je veux vivre' by Gounod and moved their hosts to tears with Rene Clausen's 'Kyrie'.  The resonance in the big stone church lent an ethereal quality to Gounod's 'Messe Solennelle de Sainte Cecile' and the audience rose to their feet for a standing ovation!


If you haven't booked a holiday...

If you are interested in a countryside base in a wonderful part of France, please have a look at our website at www.franceholidayhome.eu and let us know if you have any preferred dates. 

Marielle Steward writes: 'As teachers, Andrew and I have invested many school holidays over many years to make our gite the perfect France getaway. Any income is reinvested or helps to pay for maintenance for everyone's enjoyment. Last year we changed the shutters and had the main facade repainted. We are currently installing a brand new shower and retiling the recently decorated bathroom... We're off during the Easter holidays to ensure that the gite is as comfortable as possible for our guests from April to October.'

We offer a £50 discount to Cercle members on all our low, standard website rates per booking. 

French Chanson



Photographs of the performers at Ringwood Cercle Amical earlier this year by kind permission of Richard J. Walter Photography.

Magdalena's Album Launch
After a year of work in the studio and many years of dreaming, my first album of my own music is being shared with the worldwide audience.
"We are the powerful beings who are walking on this Earth, we are beautiful…" - the words echo through Magdalena's songs in a subtle and uplifting manner. Simple, yet beautiful melodies with Magdalena's angelic and vibrant voice, invite the body to gently sway, the heart to open and the soul to listen. The sound of the hammered dulcimer, performed by Magdalena, the hang drum, skilfully played by talented drummer Ralph Cree and the ethereal keyboards added by the producer Steve Jones - give this recording its subtle, folky tone.


Spotlight on film

The Bournemouth Colosseum in Westbourne purports to be the country's smallest cinema. They show foreign language films every Tuesday evening at 7.30pm. The cinema is at Lavish Life Cafe, 14 Westbourne Arcade, Bournemouth BH4 9AY. Please telephone in advance during cafe opening hours to check details and reserve your seats 01202 769092.

The Phoenix is a long established film society showing the best of world cinema. Films are screened in the Southampton University Student Union Cinema with their original soundtrack and English subtitles. Films are usually on Wednesdays and start at 7.30pm (no adverts beforehand).www.thephoenix.org.uk

The Lighthouse Poole World Cinema Specials add an extra dimension to the mix of new releases and live Opera and Theatre broadcasts at this stunning arts centre.

Our neighbouring Cercle

Cercle Français de Ferndown meets on the first Wednesday of the month at the Barrington Centre at 7.30pm.

Feature in 'France magazine'

We were thrilled to be profiled in the national France magazine December 2014 edition - here is an extract of the article:

Cercle Amical has been meeting since at least 1983 in the market town of Ringwood on the edge of the New Forest. We meet on the second Friday of most months of the year and call ourselves 'The friendly, English speaking Society' though, having said that, under our umbrella we run a French conversation group led by a French national.

Our season runs from September to June; for five meetings we engage a speaker to present a topic with a clear French connection whilst we enjoy a glass or two of wine. Over the years we have enjoyed talks covering all manner of subjects; far too numerous and disparate to name - but all with the French connection which we love. The highlight of last year's programme was a charming Polish chanteuse who entertained us with an evening of French chansons. She's returning in 2015.

The rest of the programme is social and includes a Wine & Cheese evening, Christmas Soirée and pétanque evening.

As our name suggests, we are friendly and delighted to welcome new members and visitors if they would like to come and try us out. There is no formality; a love of France and all things French is the only requirement. As our website says; 'it's all about savouring, enjoying and loving la belle France. 

French maps available to Cercle members 

Cercle Amical de Ringwood have been given all the French maps that belonged to former member, Ted Davies. They amount to a fairly comprehensive selection in several scales. They are listed in the PDF here and members are most welcome to borrow them for their own journeys. For ease they are kept at Damian and Penny Buckley's house. Do contact the Buckleys if you would like to borrow any.

 French driving laws change 

There have recently been a number of changes to French driving laws relating to speed cameras, breathalysers and high-visbility jackets to name but a few. Click on the link below to access an excerpt from the Telegraph with full details:


French news, language and culture

saliannefrenchfocus.wordpress.com is a twice-weekly bilingual blog which is proving a popular free resource with members of various French conversation groups, circles and twinning associations.

Its author, who has worked as a translator and commercial negotiator and now teaches French conversation, was encouraged to write a blog by her students.
The lively and amusing posts present snapshots of French news, language and culture which appeal to both casual and serious learners and provide excellent material for group discussions or tête-à-tête conversations.



French motorway tolls made easy

Ever sat in a queue at the toll booths jealously watching the locals drive straight through? Sanef, the French motorway operator has now extended its Liber-t automatic toll payment service to UK motorists. Simply register online to receive a windscreen tag which allows you to drive straight through the tolls. You then receive a bill for your toll charges the following month.

For more information and to order the tag, visit www.saneftolling.co.uk.

The site also includes links to journey planners, real time traffic information and details of toll rates so it's worth visiting even if you don't wish to get the tag.



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