Images from our March Magazine
IBS Open House
Laptops for a School in Madagascar
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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There will be no Evening Book Group this month.
We will be reading ‘Copenhagen’ by Michael Frayne.
I have selected ‘The Buddha in the Attic’ by Julia Otsuka (1962). This is a subject I had heard of vaguely and thought we ought to know more about the sad story of Japanese women brought over in their hundreds to San Francisco as mail-order brides in the interwar period.
Julie Otsuka was born and raised in California. Her father worked as an aerospace engineer, while her mother worked as lab technician, both of Japanese descent. After studying art as an undergraduate at Yale University she pursued a career as a painter for several years before turning to fiction writing at the age of 30. Her first novel, ‘When the Emperor Was Divine’ (2002), is about the internment of a Japanese-American family during World War II and is based on Otsuka’s own family history.
The author has received lots of awards: she was a finalist for the National Book Award and in 2012 she was rewarded the Prix Femina Etranger.
In ‘The Buddha in the Attic’, Julie Otsuka has developed a literary style that is half poetry half narration – short phrases, sparse description - so that the current of emotion running through each chapter is made more resonant by her restraint. Instead of a single, named protagonist, Otsuka writes in the first person plural through a series of thematic chapters. Such a device shouldn't work but does. Although there are no dominant characters, Otsuka's brilliance is that she is able to make us care about the crowd precisely because we can glimpse individual stories through the delicate layering of collective experience.
The opening chapter sets the scene on the boat as the women make their crossing to America, clutching photos of the handsome young men they believe to be their new husbands. The reality that confronts the women deals a blow from which they never fully recover. In a devastating chapter entitled ‘First Night’ Otsuka recounts the physical consummation of these new relationships and each subsequent chapter charts some aspect of immigrant life – getting jobs, giving birth and dealing with the casual racism of pre-war America: they learned that they should always call the restaurant first and ask if they serve Japanese. Their children grow up to be more comfortable with their adopted land than their parents changing their names to sound American and making fun of their mothers' accents.
Some of the marriages survive and some don't. After the attack on the American fleet moored at Pearl Harbor, the order comes for the Japanese to be interned. Entire communities are uprooted, forced to give up their houses and livelihoods. It is here that Otsuka finally gives her women their names: this sudden individualization is extremely poignant.
In the final chapter, Otsuka's collective voice shifts from the Japanese to the Americans: "The Japanese have disappeared from our town. Their houses are boarded up and empty now." This is a sad tale, an easy read, but beautifully told.
We always enjoy our gatherings chez Holly with the splendid view of the mountains, so please let her or me, know if you are coming and what you plan to bring for our varied pot luck lunch. It will be nice to try out a Japanese dish?
On Friday 3rd May we will discover the highly recommended restaurant in Fayence. There is a choice between the three course Menu Saveur at 29€ and Menu Gourmand at 40€, or the four course Menu Plaisir at 53€, all excluding drinks.
Please contact me for further details on receipt of this newsletter.
Fully booked, we're afraid (it was advertised in the April Magazine as it is so early in the month) but if you like a gamble you could email Jo and add yourself to the waitlist, in case another famous Marseille plague attacks some of the participants!
11:00 – 16:00hrs
I have been clearing out all my cupboards to find room for all the wool I have bought over the last few months, and in the process, have unearthed tons of yarn that I have acquired…..I am going to bring all my leftovers and will give them away to anyone who wants them – some are beautiful, black mohair, glittery evening stuff and bright cottons for summer. If you have stuff that you are never going to use for one reason or another, bring it along – it may just be what someone else is looking for! Same format as usual, bring your own lunch and Jill will provide drinks. Please can you let her know if you will be joining us.
10:00 – 11:15hrs
This is an open forum for anyone to come along with their computer issues or questions, so join us and we shall do our best to help you.
Contact Michel or Trevor
14:00 – 16:00hrs
The cost is 4€ to cover the cost of the tea and cakes.
Please contact Marietta if you would like to join us.
Come and join us for tea at this lovely hotel and spa in Aix. There is a lovely garden, so hopefully the weather will be kind to us and we can enjoy afternoon tea in the sunshine.
Please let me know if you are able to join us.
We are once again invited to spend a very pleasurable time at the home of Liz and Pierre for our pot luck lunch. We are truly hoping to have lovely weather allowing more members to join us outside in the garden. Please contact me.
I will organise the menu nearer the time and directions will be sent out at the same time
Venue: Sainte Victoire
We shall meet on the car park which is on the road leading from Aix to Saint Antonin. From the car park we shall start our hike taking the red-marked easy path which will take us to the summit. There are no particular difficulties along the way, but bear in mind that the summit is at 900 metres altitude approx. We shall have our picnic lunch at the summit where suitable and then take the same path down to the car park. Please bring sufficient food and water and wear proper hiking gear.
For any further information please call me.
We are enjoying showing the group around our area but this month we shall take you to a destination a bit further away in the Luberon. We will go to Rustrel which is situated some 70 kilometres from Aix-en-Provence. The area hosts some amazing rock formation locally known as the Colorado Provençal. There is no comparison with the American Colorado but if you want to see magnificent scenery that was formed by erosion and by former ochre quarries then this is the place to go. It is the kind of landscape you rarely see and you have already had a taste of it on the front cover photo of this magazine.
For the first part of the ramble we will be walking through lavender fields and we'll have the chance to see breath-taking views of the old quarries. Then, the rest of the walk will take us through the rock formations and we'll see one of the most fascinating geological curiosities of Colorado "the fairy chimneys" - tall thin stone columns crowned with a larger stone, which protects the column from erosion.
We'll be walking for about 2½ hours on easy ground to cover a 6kms' distance in total and we will take a 45minute break for a picnic. The ramble is not a difficult one but it is advisable to wear sturdy shoes. Please note that we are fair-weather walkers, so if it's raining the ramble will keep for another day.
It is not necessary to sign up, but it is useful for the organisers to have an idea of who is expected on the ramble, so if you're planning to come, please let me know. Should there be any doubt about the weather on the day or if you need a lift, please call Annie a few days beforehand. We want to start the walk at 10:30hrs (estimated journey time from Aix 1 hour and 20 minutes,) so please allow enough time to arrive, park and get ready as we leave on time.
A few days beforehand, I'll send a reminder for the ramble on the One List and will include a few pictures of some lovely views that we'll be coming across. However if you want to get an immediate idea of the sort of pictures you will see I recommend that you Google ‘Colorado Provençal photos’ on your search engine. I'm sure you'll be amazed by the pictures you see and this will make you want to come!
Please contact Marietta if you would like to join us for lunch at this lovely restaurant.
Come and join us for lunch at one of our favourite restaurants tucked away between the lively market in the place des Prêcheurs and the law courts in the middle of Aix. Hopefully, weather permitting, we will be eating outside in the shade of a large plane tree. The food is traditional Provençal and there is always a signature millefeuille for dessert.
Space is likely to be limited so please contact me by Monday 20th May 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.
14:00 – 16:00hrs
This month we shall discuss ‘Road to Nab End’ by William Woodruff. Please contact Lydia if you want to join in – and don’t forget the 4€ to cover tea and cakes!
18:00 – 20:00hrs
Please contact Marietta if you want to share an early evening apéro with us.
Looking Ahead: June
We are going back to the beautifully appointed venue a lot of you will remember from last year’s picnic. This is a theme park for children with many attractions which we are able to use free of charge. Lots for them to enjoy! Have a look at the website www.lafermedeheidi.fr.
The owners of the park request that parents are responsible for their children at all times.
Please remember that although there is some shade at this venue you should come prepared with a sunshade and perhaps a picnic table and chairs or blanket. Anything for your comfort...
There will be a barbecue (for which we would need some of you menfolk to volunteer! Coals and lighters will be available but please bring your own cooking utensils. The group will supply the meats, cheese, bread, soft drinks, wines and beer, with plenty of ice.
Please reserve early as we are hoping for a large turnout for this occasion. There is plenty of room for us to take up a picnic spot. Please let me know what you will bring for the table: something to accompany the barbecued meats or a dish should you not wish to eat meat. Desserts too! Just let me know.
Looking Further Ahead: July
Save the date!! We’ve booked the band!!
Full details will be in next month’s magazine.
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
Wednesday (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