The Club’s annual tour to our twin city of Aix-en-Provence saw 11 members fly via Marseille to spend a long weekend in and around the city. We received a warm welcome from our old friends from the village clubs of Saint Cannat and Puyricard, where we participated in challenging melées alongside our hosts. Puyricard’s terrain in particular has its own challenges, as they prefer to play on their car park with its rough ground and ‘racines’ or tree roots to their smooth official pistes. Saturday afternoon was spent with new friends at the village of Couteron, just north of Aix, taking part in their regular melée. We were delighted to be given a bottle of local wine for each participant, presented in a formal ceremony which the French are so fond of. Our new committee Chair, Diana, was in splendid form thanking our hosts in her best French, which they obviously appreciated.
She presented them with a new Twinning badge, a tasteful little Union Jack and Tricolor together.
Members of the City of Bath Pétanque Club decided to enter this year’s Open Boules competition held at Jersey Pétanque Club . We flew Flybe from Southampton in their Bombardier Q400 turbo jet – with a required cruising height of just 16000 feet .By the time we reached our ceiling height we started the descent into Jersey airport. This short 30 minute flight suited me down to the ground!
The game of Pétanque in Jersey is so well supported and our teams from Bath were most welcomed with handshakes, hugs and greeting many old friends from both Islands. One of our teams was well placed coming 6th out of fifty four teams entered for this two day competition.
Of course it’s never all about Boules. On tour some fine dining occurred in many interesting restaurants which became a nightly haunt. We dined out with The Saxons from Cricklade. The laughter around the table just has to be experienced, words are just not enough to describe the fun we had on this Tour. Ah yes nearly forgot, we discovered a midday place to snack called the ‘Crab Shack’ which registered enough interest for us to return twice for their delightful fresh seafood..
On May 9th the Island celebrates ‘Liberation Day’ .Sadly this date was just beyond our stay so we decided to visit ‘The War Tunnels‘ to support the Island’s Liberation during WW2. The ‘War Tunnels’ bring the occupation days back with a jolt for us to acknowledge those who lost their lives and the terror the Islanders lived through over a period of five long years.
What did this tour offer?
Well, it gave us a chance to meet others who play our game in another zone,tactics and ball play concentration which gives a guide to what
we could never develop playing continually with the same group in Bath.
Bath – Braunschweig Association annual twinning dinner
By our roving reporter – Terry Basson.
Having recently visited Braunschweig as part of the City of Bath Petanque tour and enjoyed the hospitality of our hosts in Germany Di and I were delighted to receive an invitation to a German theme menu by members of the Twinning Association in Bath. We were also joined by two others of our intrepid travellers, Don and Thelma Grimes.
The venue chosen was ‘Cafe Retro’.
We arrived at the scheduled time to be received by an unusual scene of our waitress
ironing the sheets for our tables. Clearly this proved a hoot with me thinking “Is this all part of a Cafe Retro experience”?
Many happy faces continued to arrive during our pre-prandial drinks. Meeting so many new people was most enjoyable.
Whilst our meal was being served, we chatted and banter was soon fast exchanged with Councillor Bryan Chalker and his wife, who kindly introduced us to other diners at our table.
After coffee, I was truly taken back, when Bryan stood up to entertain us, first with his lips supporting a Jewish Harp twanging in fine a rhythm.
Further talent was still to be discovered when Don Withers played his piano along with Gerald, a professional singer, who beautifully sang us ballads all in German.
Not finished yet, Bryan was up on his feet again because he had even further talents to declare to us new comers, playing his mouth organ even though suffering from nasty chest infection. When once again, a most tuneful note sounded throughout the room.
I begin by waxing lyrical about our boules tour to Germany starting with our flight from Bristol to Hanover. Eight members of the CoBPC signed up for this adventure to play boules in Bremen and Braunschweig. We boarded our flight on BMI’s Embraer ERJ -135 powered by two Rolls Royce AE 3007 engines. The company call it ‘Their Little Rocket’. Seating just 37 passengers costing around £143 million to build and guess what? We were the only passengers on board that day!
Forgive me when I say, we travelled Rolls Royce class and this is the unbelievable truth. We were treated like a charter flight!
The on-board staff even had time to take the interior picture, shown with this article, of us, in our millionaire’s mode of transport.
‘Don’t mention the war’ thoughts raced through my head as we flew over the industrialised areas of the Ruhr valley, thinking about those frightened young bomber crews back in that time which now, cannot be mentioned.
All we had in our Bomb Bay were 24 steel Boules to drop onto the Pistes during friendly Petanque tournament games in Braunschweig and Bremen.
Lutz – Ruiger Busse (Hon member of CoBPC) met us outside our hotel ‘Deutsches Haus’ where we were to stay in Braunschweig for three nights. Lutz was so very helpful, he took us to a nice Restaurant which was offering special traditional Bavarian meals, with a beer especially brewed for what the German people call their Oktober Fest, This unique place had many surprises in store including looking like a railway carriage from an Agatha Christie novel and with drinks leaving the bar by model railway and being delivered to our table.
The next day we visited the VW car factory in Wolfsburg taking the tour, viewing the assembled rows of Robotic arms, welding with great dexterity , actually looking back and checking the standard of the weld, before allowing the partly assembled vehicle , to continue to the next Robot to act its part of the overall plan. At this point I was overcome with that feeling of, OMG, maybe the future will see machines taking over as in movies like ‘The Terminator’! As we progressed we did eventually observe a few humans who were working almost , in like fashion, unhurried yet efficient as their brother Robots. VW produces a car every eighteen seconds, 52 thousand workforce. The factory covers 6.5 square kilometres of the countryside.
In the evening, we met our twinning group. The president Treve Erdmenger of the Anglo- German Association warmly welcomed our group from Bath and invited us all to help ourselves to a table spread full of a variety of foods and drinks. Don Grimes began by greeting all assembled, presenting gifts from our Petanque Club and interesting presents from our twined Roman City. The evening proved very useful – we split ourselves up among many tables to reach out to as many members to show that they too could receive a good welcome from Bath. Making new contacts was important for I feel sure this will continue to gather momentum.
Thursday we met the local Braunschweig Petanque club and we were made very welcome playing double matches throughout the day.
I always thought German people were a culture of aloofness. Oh how wrong I was! Warm hugs and genuine smiles were exchanged among old and newly made friends.
Friday was to see us travelling to Bremen (staying in The Atlantic Grand) and to play in the Open triples. Throughout our train journey we discussed tactics which will hopefully bring us even more success. On Saturday another fine day in Bremen. I was now swimming in an ocean of happy friendly hugs – yes hugs! This leads me on to say,
“My residing war child finally realised, that the war is now truly over”.
To complete our day, Cary Bush guided us to a fascinating place to eat called Comturei. I say fascinating because I can only describe the meal in my pictures attached – other than to say, “Out of this World experience”!
During a lifting of glasses we congratulated Don Grimes for his faultless arrangements throughout the five days. In the tall man’s way, he thought he had done nothing special. Yet those who have ever undertaken arranging a five day tour will know, how much planning goes into this splendid adventure. Stand up Don and take a bow!
This may be the first and last time that any of us playing in this match will see a boule bounce and land on 3 other boules and remain straddled across all three boules. It almost looks as though the boule could have been deliberately placed on the the other boules but with a high lob, soft landing on the gravel and a little bit of back spin the boule had slowed sufficiently enough not to disturb the holding boules.
For the third year in a row a group of City of Bath Boulistes descended on Jersey to test their skills in the Jersey and Carrefour Open tournaments. Our hosts had replaced last years wet, cold and windy weather with bright blue skies and temperatures not seen in the UK this year. Worth the trip alone.
In what was to become probably the most bizarre event of the tour and not previously seen by any of the players participating in one of the matches between a Guernsey team and the City of Bath – the boule mountain. In what can only be described as unbelievable, one of the players managed to bounce his boule on to a cluster of boules and leave it straddled on the top of 3 other boules. So extraordinary, that the game was delayed for 5 minutes while a camera was found and pictures taken from several different angles.
Could the dambusters have thrown a better spinning boule?
Our thanks to our hosts for a magnificent weekend and we will be returning next year to renew old friendships and take on the challenges left undone this year.
Aix-en_Provence 2013. We have just received the finalised dates for the City of Baths Petanque clubs trip to Aix-en-Provence. Situated in the South of France, Aix-en-Provence is about 30 miles north of Marseilles. Planned for the last week of May, we will be playing in the afternoons and evenings. The actual tournaments will be held from the 27th-31st May at a number of different villages around Aix-en-Provence. The club has visited and played against these villages in the past. This year we will be visiting Les Milles, Puyricard, Eguilles, Saint Cannat and Cabries. Dinner will also be provided by 3 of the 5 clubs.
The tournments will be arranged over 5 days. The challenge will be drawn as a melee. Each day players will register individually and a draw made to form mixed teams. At the end of the week the best player from each city will be presented with a cup. A final knock out tournament for the twinning cup will be played between the teams from each participating city.
The Local Twinning Association in Aix-en-Provence are hoping that other towns twinned directly with Aix-en-Provence will also participate. So far Germany have confirmed, Denmark are a possibility and they are still waiting to hear from others.
It is proposed that we will leave the UK on 26th returning on or after the 1st June. It will also be possible to join for part of the tour. Mornings will be sightseeing or free
The tour is open to all City of Bath Petanque club and associate members.
We need to know who would be interested as soon as possible in order to book flights as we may be able to get group rate. The same applies for accommodation.
Club Chair Lesley Hall and Secretary Diana Lockwood flew the flag for Bath in Aix for 5 days at the beginning of the month. Taking part in the Aix Twinning Christmas market for the first time, Lesley had selected 4 different blends of loose leaf tea from Bath firm Gillards, and a range of goods with a Bath and British theme, all of which sold well. The Mayor and Mayoress of Bath were also there helping to serve tea in between official engagements. Diana was there with jewellery that she designs and makes. She found her earrings were particularly popular with French and Italians. Lesley and Diana were kept so busy that they did not have time for a single game of boules, although they did meet up with some of the boulistes who came over to Bath in the summer. They are already planning to go to Aix again next year
. Next time they’ll take more Earl Grey, more earrings, and allow more time for boules!
Over the past number of years we have often reported back on our boules tours from a group perspective so this time we asked Terry Basson, one of our new members this year to provide some feedback on his first club tour.
“It all began during a casual conversation with Chris McGinn telling us about the Alkmaar Boules connection. We showed interest and before we could say ‘Jack Robinson’, a very detailed email about the trip arrived from Diana Lockwood.
For Di Greenaway it was a first visit to the Netherlands, and my only experience was at 18 years old during my Army National service when I arrived on a troop ship suffering the effects of a very rough sea crossing! But, empowered by the detailed information we decided to go and with ease booked the flights from Bristol and the Grand Hotel Alkmaar as suggested.
And so it was that we rediscovered summer in Sospel, a ville fleurie 10 miles north of Menton. Lucky for us it was the day of le concours de boules in le parc centrale. Having caused a security scare by taking our boules though eurostar terminal in St Pancras we weren’t going to miss this, so we headed for le parc to find about 100 people of all ages playing in teams of three on the pathways of the park. Now pathways might be a bit of a misnomer. They had more resemblance to the surface to of the moon, rocky, cratered and dusty. That didn’t seem to stop anyone’s enjoyment though and presented a welcome challenge for les tireurs.
Included in the 1932 film by Marcel Pagnol “Fanny” a famous scene in which a tram is stopped in its tracks in order to allow the game to continue (the clip is unsubtitled but, as ever in Provence, the gestures speak volumes).
However one of pétanque’s most venerable and amusing traditions, the Fanny, is apparently unconnected with Pagnol. La Fanny, qu’est-ce que c’est?