Taking peace for granted, and working together

We’re not allowed to vote in the UK referendum on the EU, having moved to France over 15 years ago. Enough has been said about the economy, immigration and self-interest, so I wanted to share an unusual and poignant tale about working together.

Dad tour June 2003 - 02 copy – Version 2

Noel Chavasse’s grave at Brandhoek near Ypres

Captain Noel Chavasse was a doctor, and the only man to be awarded the Victoria Cross twice during the First World War. He won the first at Guillemont during the Battle of the Somme a hundred years ago this summer, rescuing ‘some twenty badly-wounded men’ from no-man’s land under fire, and a second VC at Passchendaele the following August in 1917.

’Noel Chavasse never killed anyone, nor did he even fire a shot in anger. He was never aggressive or vindictive; never for a moment did he lose his essential decency and restraint. Yet he is one of only three men who have won the VC twice and in some ways the most remarkable of all.’

From ’Supreme Courage – Heroic stories from 150 years of the Victoria Cross’, by General Sir Peter de la Billière.

Noel was the first cousin of my granny, Esme Quinney, née Chavasse (hence he was my ‘first cousin twice removed’). They and their families were descendants of a Frenchman who had settled in England early in the eighteenth century. Chavasse is the middle name of my late father, myself and my children, so you can imagine that Noel’s story has always been close to our hearts. Keep reading


One reason for UK wine lovers to stay in the EU

Gov_blogCurrently, there’s no limit to the amount of wine you can bring back to the UK from France and the EU, provided it’s for your own use and you travel with the goods. That way you save £2.50 a bottle in UK duty (of £2.08 plus VAT on the duty). If you bought the wine outside the EU, however, the limit is 4 litres, plus a whopping 2 litres of sparkling wine. If Britain leaves the EU, we’re struggling to see what incentive there is for the taxman to increase the non-EU allowance. Keep reading


Bordeaux en primeur – still ’in the doldrums’?

Oxford_blogFor those of you with an interest in the fine wines of Bordeaux and the en primeur circus, here’s an interesting article from Oxford Today, the university magazine, which we’ve republished with their kind permission. Several reasonably bright friends and family brought it to our attention. Hanneke Wilson, the wine steward at Exeter college, explains how en primeur is regarded by the Oxford colleges – once a strong market for Bordeaux. (In French too, for the Bordelais.)

The piece was from last Autumn, and focuses on the Bordeaux 2014 vintage – a very good one – but the points about consumer confidence and the way the offers come out are still valid. Keep reading