My little office is full to bursting point and I have started going through things and throwing away what I can.
During this process I have found paperwork and souvenirs from several Quimper Club meetings, all with their own special memories. It’s not just faience that seems to come home with me !
The first meeting I attended was in Quimper: what a privilege to be allowed in the grenier at the HB Henriot factory and to have a tour of the Museum guided by Bernard Verlingue. (It was during this meeting that Lucy W casually mentioned that I should get involved with the Journal, oh…. and would I organise an UK meeting?)
The next meeting I attended was in Boston- my first ever trip to the USA which started with a pre-meeting visit to the home of Quimper author Sandra Bondhus, a special thrill, as were the visits to member’s collections.We also had the pleasure of visiting with another Quimper author; Anne Marie O’Neill.
The next meeting was in Bath, it’s only the other day that I discarded the copies of the map of Bath that I gave out when I organised the meeting there (and true enough two weeks later my husband and I visited again Bath and I had to print a map from the internet, isn’t it always the way?) I still have my souvenir Quimper souvenir of the Bath meeting though...
My next visit to the USA was to White Plains in New York State, where as well as visiting stellar collections and stately homes we visited the Culinary Institute of America. I still have the (much used) tea towel!
In addition, this trip I stayed first with a Club friend in Boston and we drove down to White Plains, via the Norman Rockwell museum in Stockbridge. At the time all I had seen of Rockwell’s work were the rather sentimental collector’s plates, the visit really opened my eyes and I’m now a fan! (And I treated myself to a book of Rockwell’s Christmas just a few weeks ago)
On my return to the Boston area I had a spare day and was lucky enough to be able to visit the home of Louisa M Alcott, especially interesting as I had just read the Geraldine Brooks book 'March' based on the life of the father in Little Women. ( I can recommend this book !)
Another reminder of my White Plains visit is the print now hanging in my sitting room, a purchase from the sale (then unframed).
Our next Club meting was in Rouen and the Club was able to hold our Annual meeting in historic surroundings as well as visiting the French seaside at La Baule.
The salt in my kitchen cupboard testifies to the visit to the Guerande salt marshes; I stocked up, big style! Luckily an English Club member who had used the ferry for the trip was able to bring it back for me as I had travelled by air.
Next the Club went to Philadelphia. On this trip I visited with Club friends in Washington first and did some tourist things, including a visit to the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian where I ate buffalo stew, something I never expected to do… Thanks to this visit when I watched Obama’s inauguration I could recognise landmarks and say ‘I’ve been there’.
Once in Philadelphia other treats were in store, we literally went ‘behind the scenes at the Museum’ at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, a truly memorable experience, as were our trips to the Barnes Collection and to Winterthur. The Campbells Soup collection of tureens was among the many treasures.
This visit also had an added bonus experience for me: one member asked if any of us would like to go to a concert – the opportunity to see the Philadelphia Philharmonic in Philadelphia was a chance not to be missed, it was a great night! So much so that on my return home I was inspired to book to see several concerts locally, including one lead by the conductor I had seen in Philadelphia: Charles Dutoit.
In 2009 our meeting was in Dallas, the collections were unforgettable but we also had a day touring Dallas and had the opportunity to visit a variety of tourist attractions – I chose to go to the 6th Floor Museum.
I was just twelve years old when President Kennedy was assassinated, I can remember now my mother getting a ‘phone call to tell her the news and to urge her to switch on the TV. All evening the BBC repeated the news preceded by ‘The voice of America says’. A few years later I did a school project on the topic and read a book called ‘Red Roses from Texas’ I found the Museum really interesting and equally fascinating for me was listening to the recollections of that terrible day by other Club members who are American. Everyone has to leave the Museum via an elevator - suffice to say that everybody I saw exiting was having a ‘Kleenex moment’.
As well as purchasing faience at our stellar meting sales I have also been successful bidding in the charity auctions we sometimes have - in Philadelphia I felt really pleased with myself – I bought a wooden piece and felt this way I had no need to worry about breakages on the journey home, what I didn’t account for was the weight (in fact on this trip I dumped the suitcase I came with and bought two new ones at TJ Max!)
At the 2009 auction in Dallas I had wised up, I was the successful bidder on a small piece of jewellery, a traditional Breton pin!
Once more I was able to attend a concert, this time the Dallas symphony orchestra that had a great ‘casual Friday’ program.
Our meetings really are terrific, and as you can see not only for the faience - if you have never been to a Quimper Club meeting do think about joining us in Savannah later this year, you won't regret it.
One of the nicest things about the Club membership is the way it allows one to get to know other people with a common interest, whether by email or in real life at a meeting. Many a firm friendship has been formed with Club membership providing the catalyst.
This brings me to another item rediscovered in my ‘throw out frenzy’. Among a pile of receipts I discovered a piece of paper that I first found in a mixed lot at an auction some years ago. It obviously struck a chord then, as it does now.
On the paper is a written a thank you letter to Derek from Noel, dated 1964. The first half of the letter deals with the giving and wrapping of a gift in appreciation of a friendship and continues thus:
"Friendship is a vitamin not on the dietitians list – it has a difference from the other- when used it multiplies and beautifies the soul, enriches the mind and warms the heart"
Although I have searched I have been unable to find this as a quote, perhaps it is original?
Naturally friendships don’t show on the list of Club benefits, but never the less they are the icing on the Club cake, a true bonus, one vitamin I’ll take gladly!