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Saturday, 13 October 2012

Foie Gras, en toute bonne foi

Welcome back to the Chavagnes International College blog. This year we will be bringing you regular updates of the happenings at the college, penned (or rather typed) by the students themselves!
Foie Gras, en toute bonne foi
Foie Gras tends to be a controversial subject, and the taste is not for everyone. Nevertheless senior boys were invited to sate there curiosty at a local farm. Louis DuBrule (S1) reports:

On the 13th of December, the senior boys visited a duck farm which produced foie gras not far from Chavagnes.
At first, the farmer showed us nine thousands ducklings contained in a rather dark, smelly warehouse. The ducklings, which were a mere eight days old, always live close together.

When they are three weeks old, they get free and live outside until they are twelve weeks old. From then on the farmer gets them ready for the forced feeding and feeds them only in the morning (but an enormous amount!) Then, when the ducks become thirteen-fourteen weeks old, they are put in the forced-feeding room. During this period, they are fed a lot to make the liver bigger. And ten days after, they are killed (with the aid of quite a strange machine!)
Then, we had something that everybody was waiting for: the degustation! Mr Guerin, the farmer, had set a huge table for us. We could eat a selection of very nice duck-based foods: duck pate, duck boudin, duck rillettes, magret fume, magret seche, and of course, foie gras! It was very convivial and everyone was very happy. Lastly, the choir members sang Laudate nomen Domini to thank him.
All pupils really enjoyed this visit and will take a way good memories of it. THANK YOU MR GUERIN!

Sunday, 3 June 2012

The Promise: Louis Vadot Renoul, Mr. Tyldesley and Father Rowe

The chapel is readied
After a time of preparation, one day it was time for Louis to take his scout promise. It is not something to be taken lightly and a scout is allowed time to make sure he is ready for the commitment to charity, loyalty and obedience that it requires. Louis' hard work in the patrol had matured him to the extent where he merited admission into the state of the fully-fledged scout. Joining him in this commitment was our chaplain and Mr. Tyldelsey. The location was the tiny and atmospheric St. Joseph's chapel by the lake at the back of the school.
The altar is readied

St. Joseph looks on


The camp fire
Non-scouts enjoy the fire and lend a prayer


Louis makes his promise with one hand on the altar cloth

Mr. Tyldesley makes his promise

Father makes his promise grasping the altercloth
The scene outside
The handshake

Our torchbearers with Mr. Crawford

After an all-night vigil of adoration the three new members of Scouts dee Chavagnes were sworn in at dawn holding onto the altarcloth. As symbols of their new membership they received our capbadge and the Vendeen sacred heart.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Noirmoutier, the pilgrimage to the shrine of Saint Philibert (Chavagnes scouts)


Noirmoutier, the pilgrimage to the shrine of Saint Philibert:

It is generally accepted in scout circles that the January exit-weekend scout camp is the most feared in all the scouting calendar. It is cold, it is dark and the laws of science concerning combustion seem to have changed. For this trip our destination was the isle of Noirmoutier and to make things easier (oh the naivety!) we had bikes. Here we are setting out, all smiles and mouths full of apple:

Onward Christian Soldiers!

The first section of the journey (a small railway station in the heart of the bocage to a chateau just outside Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie) was completed fairly easily, though it became clear that riding uphill with a remorque was not an easy task.

Louis V-R lends a hand (and a leg) with a remorque.
Soon a first stop was necessary. Apples and chocolate make very good bike fuel:

We were very lucky that as the sun set over the fields casting a red light on the fields and calvaries of the bocage to come across a potential camp for the night. Our hosts were very hospitable and we soon had a campfire going:
A fine calvary in the light of the setting sun.
Arriving at the chateau.
The fire, a communal effort.
Armand and Mito enjoy the much-needed warmth.
A reluctant morning farewell to our camp

The next day we awoke to a beautiful but cold morning, more than a little apprehensive of the long cycle ahead. After a short, unplanned stop in St. Gilles (our first technical fault!) we took the coastal path towards the Marais Breton, stopping for lunch by the long, fine beaches:

Armand in the distance Louis surveys the strands Laurent and Armand Group photo
Despite the flatness of the terrain the strong winds made progress difficult, especially for those trailing the remorques, which now began to act like sails dragging the rider the wrong way. The weather was very bright and clear however, which made things much more pleasant. Then one of the remorques broke. Then it broke again. And then again....

Louis and Laurent use their technical nous and scout tools to fix the remorque.
This was the most trying part of the journey but with mutual support, the faultless (well, more or less) guidance of Max, patrol leader and navigator, and sheer determination we made it to the enormous humped bridge connecting Noirmoutier to the mainland. At this stage a mention must be made concerning the fine conduct of the younger members of our group who cycled hard and didn't complain.
Maximilian Micallef-Eynaud, peerless navigator and traverser of roundabouts.
Tired we made our way three quarters along the island to pitch camp, which was in the form of some rough common ground no more than a hundred metres from the beach:

Mito's tired legs allow him as far as the beach

Three intrepid adventurers on the promontory.
After a very sound sleep we awoke keen to explore Noirmoutier and discover what it was that St. Philibert had seen in the place. From the day before we had seen that it was a charming island of attractive villages and in the morning we were equally impressed by the lovely Noirmoutier-en-l'Ile. Of particular note is the whitewashed chateau which dominates the centre of town:

The group outside the chateau and the Church of St. Philibert.
Entering the church we descended into the crypt to pay homage to the saint:

The interior of the church and its beautiful pieta
The interior of the crypt was extremely atmospheric and encouraged silent contemplation.

Mr Crawford, Armand and Mito admire the crypt
After the church, we changed our itinerary and decided to spend the day exploring the island.

Another seaside lunch stop with plenty of birdwatching

We spent some time searching for a monastery shown on our map, only to discover it appears to have been changed into something else, but it was still a rewarding exploration. There can be no doubt that when the hire people arrived and took our bikes off us that there was a general sense of relief!

Saturday, 31 March 2012

Easter musings

'So shaken as we are, so wan we care, find we a time for frighted peace to pant..' these opening lines of Shakespeare's Henry IV (one of our A level English texts) drifted across my mind as the Spring term came to an end. It has certainly been a full one and it is good to have had some r and r. Here is a look at some of the main events....


The winter freeze, Chavagnes under snow:

The weather after Christmas, as most of you know, took a turn for the colder and Chavagnes International College was covered in snow thicker than any seen in its decade-long history (if the stalwarts are to be believed.) Routine continued as normal with little change to the timetable (except the popular decision to cancel cross-country) but some concessions to uniform. All around the school grounds boys could be seen making their way between vollies of snowballs laden with hats, scarfs, gloves, coats, cloaks and whatever else they could find, looking for all the world like a tribe of small Michelin men.

An unfamiliar view of the back quad
Senior boys enjoy a stroll in the snow

One break-time the snow even went to the heads of the teachers and our chaplain: (photo coming soon)



Thanks to the energetic work of Mr. Leach and Mr. Usher this term has been one of the most sporty in the college's history. Rugby fever has gripped the school. The symptoms of this pandemic are breathlessness at the mention of 'match', sudden involuntary shouts of 'ole!' and of course the compulsory throwing of an oval ball at every break and half-break of the day.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Rome Trip, February 2012

After a term and a half of hard work, the school choir was rewarded by a trip to Rome. For many members of the choir their first visit to the Eternal City, the trip was highly anticipated and a cause of great excitement for staff and pupils alike. We arrived at our objective with little difficulty except for the distribution of cottas and folders in our baggage under the close scrutiny of Ryan Air staff who can spot a 10.2 kilo bag at thirty paces. Our group consisted of choir, Mr. McDermott, Mr. Lloyd, Mr. Tyldesley, Mr. Crawford, the parents of Louis and Armand Vadot and of course our trusty Chaplain, Father Bedus Rowus.

Our lodgings were at the Seraphicum, an educational establishment run by the Franciscans on the outskirts of Rome, conveniently located at one end of the Roman metro. They were very good to us during our stay, providing excellent breakfasts and meals and showing patience towards their excited guests. The first evening was largely spent getting used to our surroundings, excepting a brief visit to the Abbey of St. Paul of the three fountains. We discovered that each fountain sprang up where Saint Pauls decapitated (and presumably bouncy) head had hit the ground.

The next day we walked a short distance to the grand, spare buildings of the Museum of Roman Civilization. This was an excellent museum for curious children, as many of the artifacts were reproductions and were designed to withstand pawing. Particularly impressive was the large scale model of Rome under the mid-Empire which we spent some time staring at and debating the scale of.

Our next stop was the Colloseum. As this trip to Peter's city was, as is the case for any Catholic, also a pilgrimage, it was pointed out that the Colloseum was also a Church, consecrated, as it were, by the blood of the martyrs spilled on its sand. At this point our group split into two; one, zealously directed by Father Rowe, examined some of the churches around the forum and the other explored the forum itself. The low walls and truncated columns of the forum can be underwhelming, and it was only at great expense to Mr. Tyldesley's theatrical skills that they could be brought to life. After returning to the Seraficum, its prayerful chapel, which was the location of all our masses, became our rehearsal space.

The next day we had Sant John Lateran on our agendum and we were heading in that direction when we were lucky enough to come across Father Redmond, a friend and visitor of the shool. The magnificent frieze and main door gave pause for wondrementm but rain drove us inside. With father Redmond on our team, the pool of local knowledge increased considerably and he pointed out many interesting features of the building and spoke Italian better than those of us who cobbled it together from bits of French, Spanish and Latin. Particularly interesting, other than the combination of architectural styles, is a small but much revered statue of St, John the Baptist. It is customary to throw coins at the foot of this statue, a custom the boys were keen to honour. It was probably with choirboys in mind that a strong pyrex screen had been erected in front of the delicate statue.

Retreating from St John's we returned to our boardings to prepare for the evening parish mass at which we were singing. We had been in communication with a troup of Scouts d'Europe from the parish and were keen to meet them. Consequently all the scouts in our party were in uniform and I am sure we made a smart impression on our hosts. The mass itself was celebrated by a special Monsignor from the Vatican, brought in at the request of the Parish on account of his linguistic skills and scouting experience. After some strong singing (though stronger was to come) we were welcomed in their function rooms and distributed among tables of talkative Italians. Next was the     which was completed with a larger open (and more explosive) fire than one expects to see in inner Rome. The boys learnt a variety of new games and songs in rather strange English (such as the wonderful  'I say do you know dog') and in return Mr. Crawford sang one of our classics, 'J'avais un camarade.' All in all a warming experience and good networking for our scouts.

The next day we had ...

(to be continued, and photos to be added ...)

Monday, 9 January 2012

British Mathematical Distinction

Photo from last summer's play,
Much Ado about Nothing.
Congratulations to Paul de Guibert (15) who has been awarded a Distinction in the British Mathematical Olympiad (BMO1) organised by the UK Maths Trust. (More information: http://www.mathcomp.leeds.ac.uk/individual-competitions/british-mathematical-olympiad/)