President's Report - July 2004
Saturday 20 June was brilliantly sunny, and freezing cold, as brave owners of French and English cars gathered on the lawns of Old Parliament House to begin the Battle of Waterloo car display. Right on cue, Napoleon appeared to lead the French into battle. However, the Duke of Wellington was nowhere to be seen, and even the arrival of German reinforcements (aka Peter Withington in his VW) did not have the historically expected impact. Thus, although the English had superior numbers on the day, Napoleon was justifiably able to claim the victory that eluded him nearly 200 years earlier. The Battle of Waterloo car display received brief coverage on the WIN local news, but reporters failed to interview the winning general. Next year perhaps!
The focus of our July club activities was the annual Bastille Day dinner, held at Pialligo Estate Winery on Saturday 17 July. The new venue proved to be a popular choice with nearly 40 Peugeot, Renault and Citroen club members and friends in attendance - easily the largest number in recent years. The room was decorated with red, white and blue balloons and streamers, as well as a French flag on loan from the French Embassy.
The evening began with a tasting of Pialligo Estate Wines (Riesling, Chardonnay, Merlot and Shiraz), courtesy of hosts, Sally Milner and John Nutt. Our guest speaker, winemaker Greg Gallagher and his wife Libby, kindly provided a sparkling wine for the formal toast, which followed the singing of La Marsellaise. French bread and soup, and Pialligo Estate wine, put everyone in good spirits for the Bastille Day quiz, which featured chocolate frogs and a bottle of French wine as prizes. After the main course (Coq au Vin and Boeuf Bourguignon), Greg Gallagher gave a very entertaining, and informative talk focusing on his work with the Wine Research Institute, testing the merits of screw cap versus cork for wine bottles.
The results were quite decisively in favour of the screw cap (Stelvin seal), with Stelvin out-performing cork by a greater margin as cellaring time increased. With something like 10% of wines suffering from being "corked" (detected by what I call "wet dog" odour), the move to Stelvin should be welcomed by both consumers and producers alike. However, as Greg pointed out, there is still considerable market resistance to change, and it may be a little while yet before we see screw cap Grange in the wine-shops. Needless to say, Greg has decided to cap all Gallagher wines with Stelvin.
The Renault Owners Club is organizing a regular series of club-plate drives, in which we have been invited to participate. These are scheduled for the 4th Sunday of each month, beginning this month, and will provide a welcome opportunity for the owners of historic cars, in particular, to give their cars a run.
Keep on Pugging,
Folding the French flag. The French Embassy kindly offered to lend the club a French flag for our Bastille Day dinner. When Brad Pillans went to the embassy to collect the flag, he was asked if knew the correct way to fold the flag. "Non" replied Brad. A French Gendarme then stepped out of his office to give instructions. "Do you speak French?" the gendarme asked. "Un peu," said Brad. "I will explain in English," said the gendarme.
The flag is first folded in three, following the line of the stripes, taking care that the red stripe is folded in first (over the white), then the blue is folded over the red. Then the flag is folded in half so that only blue shows on the outside. A further fold in three, and the job is done. The gendarme explained that the flag is always folded to show blue on the outside, unless it is war, in which case it is folded to show red. In the early days of Grand Prix racing, cars were painted a single colour to identify their country - blue for France, red for Italy, green for Britain and white for Germany. The French rugby team still wears blue jumpers, of course. Blue is indeed the French colour.
When the flag was unfurled members of the Peugeot fraternity who attended the Bastille Day dinner enjoyed a thoroughly entertaining and convivial evening, despite the dreadful weather. However it was interesting to note it was the first time ever that members of the Renault and Citroen clubs outnumbered Peugeot Association members at an event traditionally organised by the PAC.
It would be good to get some feedback from PAC members about just what they want from their club when it comes to events. Let's try and reverse the trend away from participation in club events. Perhaps we should consider reducing the number of monthly club meetings in favour of club drives on Sundays - along the lines of the April lunch at the Cork St Cafe at Gundaroo? The Renault club is starting a monthly run along these lines, the first taking place this weekend (see calendar). Maybe club business could be organised around committee meetings when the magazine is assembled and club meetings at the Italo-Australia Club held every two or three months for presentations? Let's hear your suggestions.
Beat this - two guests at the Bastille Day dinner, Wendy and Norman, are proud and happy 404 owners. They bought their 1970 404 when it was six months old and in the past 33 years have clocked up more than a million kilometres! The head has been done twice but they are still on the same clutch cable!
Peugeot Deutsche. A Citroen owner experienced a minor embarrassment when preparing to set out for the Bastille Day dinner. The owner, who shall remain nameless, planned to drive the DS to the event, only to find that it would not start. Sacre bleu! They came in a Mercedes instead...