Images from our September Magazine
Visist to Château La Coste
All events listed are open to all AAGP Members. There is also a large range of regular events and activities to choose from including: French Conversation, Computer Club, Wine Club, Children’s Group, Regional Art and Cultural activities, Restaurant reviews and many more great activities, tips and ideas to help you get the best out of life in Provence! For contact information for any of these events please refer to the AAGP Newsletter or the Members’ section of the website.
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This is an open forum for anyone to come along with their computer issues or questions, so come along and we shall do our best to help you.
Contact Michel or Trevor.
This month we are very excited to go to the Restaurant of L’Hostellerie de l’Abbaye de La Celle, a charming setting at the 12thC Benedictine Abbey, now hotel, of Alain Ducasse!
Chef Benoit Witz joined Alain Ducasse at the opening of Louis XV in Monaco in 1987, and has remained with the Ducasse Group. Epaule d’agneau confite, pommes de terre farcies et côtes de sucrine, et savarin aux fruits de saison, crème légère vanillée are some of the epicurean possibilities for us to contemplate en route to La Celle!
The Menu du Marché at 48€ includes starter, main course and dessert. The Business Menu at 38€ includes a starter and main course or main and dessert from the Menu du Marché. The restaurant can suggest a drink package of 12€ which includes a glass of wine, water and coffee.
The drive from Aix is just 63km, and parking is available at the restaurant.
I hope to see you there for this gourmet delight! Please email me by 3rd March, if you are able to come.
Venue: Avignon - through the Popes’ secret panelling, and up their back passages (!)
We apologise that most of the booking for this excursion has necessarily already taken place via the One-List: due to the fact that the Tourist Office couldn’t give us dates early enough for the last magazine, and by the time we heard back, only the first week of the month was available for us. However, it is worth still contacting us (rapidly) if you are interested, to go on the Wait list.
Have you ever wondered what the Popes in Avignon got up to when they were not in public?
Shhh… don’t tell anyone, but we are organizing a very private tour of the Popes’ Palace that takes you behind the scenes, to secret passages and hidden corridors, the baths, the wardrobes, the chapels and the gardens, from the cellar to the rooftop terraces - places where no one usually goes. Our guide will share confidential anecdotes with us that give a rare glimpse into the sovereign pontiffs’ private lives.
After the tour you’re free to continue exploring Avignon on your own (with Juliet’s article to guide you – see article in this magazine) or to join us for lunch at the family-run ‘La Fourchette’ (also in the article), just a 5-minute walk from the Palace).
Please note that this tour involves 2 hours of narrow passages and lots of steep, slippery stone steps, so is DEFINITELY only for the hale and hearty. Wear sensible footwear.
Cost: 25€ per person for the tour.
Lunch at ‘La Fourchette’: Count on about 30€. If enough people are interested, we will negotiate a group rate.
To reserve, please contact Ester.
N.B. Anyone who has reserved a place and needs to cancel after February 25th, would be responsible for finding someone to replace them or will have to pay the cost of the tour. Sorry to bang on about this, but we have had problems with last-minute cancellations in the past!
The 8th of March is International Women’s Day.
For my part, I am marking the day this year by expressing my celebration of women with a mini exposition of a few of my sculptures. The exposition titled ‘Triumph’ will be held at the AAGP library (many thanks to them) on Saturday March 8th from 9:30 am until 11:30. I hope many of you will join me to mark the day.
The ramble for this month will be the one that was cancelled in October due to bad weather. We shall enjoy a walk on the hills around Ventabren and Roquefavour. This is an area we’ve done before, but I will make sure we cover different routes. It will be a reasonably easy ramble with wide pathways, not too stony, but there are some inclines. Consequently, it is suitable for all ages as long as you are reasonably fit and of course, well-behaved dogs are welcome.
We shall walk for 1½ hours before enjoying our picnics and a further 1½ hours after lunch. For newcomers to the Group’s rambles, we all bring our own picnics and it is traditional to include something to share amongst your fellow ramblers. We want to start the walk at 10:30hrs, so please allow enough time to arrive, park and sort out your picnic things. We leave on time (in fairness to everyone) and do not wait for latecomers.
It is not necessary to sign up for the ramble, but if you need a lift please phone me a few days before.
Should the weather be doubtful, please call me for confirmation of the ramble taking place; if it’s raining, we shall postpone the occasion for another day.
Hope to see you on the March 12th meeting - watch your mail for the film details. Remember Ciné Club meets on the second Wednesday of the month in the Library as well as for an evening date in Aix at a film to be communicated by the beginning of the month.
Marilyn will discuss ‘The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks’ by Rebecca Skloot. This is a very interesting non-fiction book about an African-American woman. Henrietta Lacks was a poor and largely illiterate Virginia tobacco farmer, the great-great-granddaughter of slaves. Born in 1920, she died from an aggressive cervical cancer at 31, leaving behind five children. No obituaries of Mrs. Lacks appeared in newspapers. She was buried in an unmarked grave.
Skloot introduces us to the “real live woman”, the children who survived her, and the interplay of race, poverty, science and one of the most important medical discoveries of the last 100 years. Skloot narrates the science lucidly, tracks the racial politics of medicine thoughtfully and tells the Lacks family’s often painful history with grace. She also confronts the spookiness of the cells themselves, intrepidly crossing into the spiritual plane on which the family has come to understand their mother’s continued presence in the world. Science writing is often just about “the facts”. Skloot’s book, her first, is far deeper, braver and more wonderful. (With thanks to Lisa Margonelli who is a senior research fellow at the New America Foundation.)
To scientists, however, Henrietta Lacks almost immediately became known simply as HeLa (pronounced hee-lah), from the first two letters of her first and last names. Cells from Mrs. Lacks’s cancerous cervix, taken without her knowledge, were the first to grow in culture, becoming “immortal” and changing the face of modern medicine. There are, Ms. Skloot writes, “trillions more of her cells growing in laboratories now than there ever were in her body.” Laid end to end, the world’s HeLa cells would today wrap around the earth three times.
Because HeLa cells reproduced with what the author calls a “mythological intensity,” they could be used in test after test. “They helped with some of the most important advances in medicine: the polio vaccine, chemotherapy, cloning, gene mapping, in vitro fertilization,” Ms. Skloot writes. HeLa cells were used to learn how nuclear bombs affect humans, and to study herpes, leukemia, Parkinson’s disease and AIDS. They were sent up in the first space missions, to see what becomes of human cells in zero gravity.
Rebecca Skloot ( b.1972) a young science journalist and an indefatigable researcher, writes about Henrietta Lacks and her impact on modern medicine from almost every conceivable angle and manages to make all of them fascinating. Skloot has a B.S. in biological sciences and an MFA in creative nonfiction. She financed her degrees by working in emergency rooms, neurology labs, veterinary morgues and martini bars. She has taught creative writing and science journalism at the Universities of Memphis, Pittsburgh and NY. She currently gives talks on subjects ranging from bioethics to book proposals at conferences and universities nationwide. (Information taken from her own website).
Skloot didn’t know what she was getting into when she began researching the book as a graduate student in 1999. Over the years it took Skloot to gain the family’s trust, she came to understand that the only time white people ever called the house was when they wanted something to do with the HeLa cells. Some of the family feel they’ve been ripped off, cheated by either Johns Hopkins (though the hospital never sold the cells) or the entire medical establishment, which has made enormous profits from the cells.
As one of Mrs. Lacks’s sons says: “She’s the most important person in the world, and her family are living in poverty. If our mother is so important to science, why can’t we get health insurance?”
I’m sure we will have a vivid discussion about the ethical and human side of this subject. The book sounds complicated, but it is written for everybody and it was 2 years on the ‘NY Times’ bestsellers list. ‘The Immortal Life’ is being translated into 25 languages. It is also being made into an HBO movie produced by Oprah Winfrey. Skloot is the founder and president of The Henrietta Lacks Foundation: to take care of the studies of the Lacks family members.
Please let Jane or me know before 10th March if you would like to come to the discussion and wish to share in our pot luck lunch.
Venue: AAGP Library (first floor), Maison des Associations, Mairie annexe, 75 route des Milles, Pont-de-l’Arc, 13090 Aix-en-Provence.
Come and pick up some great book bargains!!
The AAGP annual book sale will take place on Saturday, 15th March from 9:30 to 16:00hrs at the AAGP library in Pont-de-l’Arc (for precise directions see the AAGP website).
We will have hundreds of books for sale, reference books of all sorts...cookery, travel, gardening and many others. Modern fiction and classics and children’s books too. We will also have a wide selection of DVDs.
The book sale is open to all, members and non members so spread the word to all.
Coffee and cake will be on offer too.
We will be happy to take book donations closer to the date, so clear your book shelves now!!
For more information contact Sue or Cathy.
Callelongue is a little fishing port at the south end of the coast road which borders the seafront in Marseille. We shall climb from there to the Col de la Selle (approx. 200 metres altitude), which offers a good view over the calanque coastline on one side, and over the city of Marseille on the other side. We shall then descend through the Malvallon forest, heading towards the sea, and have our picnic lunch at the Calanque de Marseilleveyre, where there is a restaurant (for tea or coffee). We shall then return directly to Callelongue via the coastal footpath.
Count on about 4 hours hiking time and wear proper hiking gear, bringing enough food and water.
For any further information please call Roderick.
‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’, which “brought the house down” last December at the Gielgud theatre in London’s West End has been chosen for our March play.
Simon Stephens’ script is based on Mark Haddon’s 2003 award-winning book about a boy who has an extraordinary brain but is ill-equipped to interpret everyday life. “Christopher is just like many of us: intelligent, capable, and caring. Yet he finds often social cues difficult to recognise and act upon. When faced with the mysterious murder of his neighbour’s dog, Christopher is determined to discover the culprit – only to encounter the complexities of family relationships along the way. Stephens’ sensitive script makes ‘Curious Incident’ not a play solely about autism, but one that equally explores the values of intellect, self-confidence, and acceptance.” (MouthLondon Magazine).
The reading will start at 14:00hrs on Monday 17th March 2014.
Please email if you wish to attend so that the parts can be distributed.
Come and join us for lunch at a restaurant where afterwards you can browse the shelves of their delightful delicatessen and cave.
Please contact me by Monday 17th March to book your place. Looking forward to seeing you. If you have a favourite place that you would like to share or would like to organise a lunch, please let me know.
This month we are reading ‘Sweet Tooth’ by Ian McEwan. There is a charge of 5€ to cover costs, wine, soft drinks and finger food. Contact Lydia.
Una and Robin invite us to join them at their home for our spring Pot Luck, hopefully with our apéro in the garden! If you are new to the group the routine is for a couple to bring food to share for 6-8 people and if you come alone then bring food for 3-4 people.
Please book early as our numbers are limited, contact Jan.
I will be in touch with the directions and menu nearer the time
Looking Ahead: April
Time to be Announced
It’s that time of year again. Time to get your brains working and prepare for the annual quiz. Time to find out if you’ve learnt anything in the last year, or have you in fact gone downhill?
There is a change this year, we shall have teams of six and each team should be ideally, but not necessarily, a mixture of different nationalities. Non-members are welcome. If you want to enter your own team of six then do so, but we always have teams looking for additional members, so we can accommodate anyone, somewhere. The quiz itself will carry on in the original format, with teams marking each other’s answers; this still seems to be the best method. Again this year, I’m preparing a much shorter general quiz with the intention to finish at a civilised hour. As is normal, there’ll be prizes for the first three, the inevitable wooden spoons for the last placed and maybe your photo in the magazine.
The cost of the evening is again 25€ per person, which will include a choice of two main courses and two desserts, wine à volonté from the start of the quiz, coffee and of course the prizes. Vegetarian meals are available, also soft drinks for those who prefer not to drink alcohol. Please call me to put your names, or teams on the list.
Further details will be given when reserving.
Time to be Announced
Venue: to be announced
EASTER PARTY - SAVE THE DATE!!
Vicki is very kindly hosting the party at her home in Aix on Sunday 13th April. Details will be emailed out to the AAGP children’s email list nearer the date, where you can sign up and find out the address and what to bring etc. Please do contact Amy if you want to help with the organising and on the day itself. Time and energy are all you need! I know that she would be delighted to hear from you!
As well as all the specials listed above, don’t forget the Regular Activities that offer new skills, fun and friendship all year round. Contact details are in your yellow Members’ List book.
Tuesday: Bridge 14:00hrs
Thursday: Coffee (Croquemitoufle) 10:00hrs-11:30hrs
Tuesday (after the board meeting, usually the first): Computer Club 10:00hrs-11:30hrs
Friday: French (Aix) 9:45hrs - 11:45hrs
Saturday: Coffee (Croquemitoufle) 10:00hrs-11:30hrs
Sunday (first): Pétanque 10:30hrs