Downside Abbey

The Benedictine Monastic Community

Downside School

The Catholic School for pupils 11 - 18

Old Gregorians

The Community for old boys and girls

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Brazil Gathering

VI Old Benedictine School Community Brazil 2011 Gathering

Ampleforth – Douai – Downside

 Hotel Fazenda Clube dos 200

Lauro Maia & Joseane Fontaine – Proprietors

São José do Barreiro – SP

October 22 (Saturday) and 23 (Sunday), 2011.

 REPORT

 THE VENUE

For those who were unable to join us this year, you missed a wonderful weekend at a venue already known to us, as it was our host for the 2nd gathering of 2007.

The Spanish style Villa, with its columns and patios, high ceilings, large rooms, etc., built in the 20´s by President Washington Luís and his 199 political cronies, was used as a hideaway place, halfway between Rio de Janeiro (237km) and São Paulo (284km), for political meetings away from the limelight of the press and political opponents.

Totally abandoned in the 90s, the current proprietors are still doing a great job of restoring the place to its former glory.

At an altitude of approximately 600 m, the venue is located at the foot of the Serra da Bocaina and is a gateway to the Bocaina National Park with peaks over 1,500 m, a much diversified fauna and rivers, streams and waterfalls galore.

The whole region is at the heart of the Paraíba River valley, which had its heyday in the 19th century during the Empire, with it numerous coffee plantations. Today, as a tourist preservation area, the various towns that make up the Royal Historic Valley capitalises on the reminiscence of hundreds of baronial country estates, most of which are well preserved and many turned into farm hotels with 5 to 15 rooms. 

The weather on Friday was great – sunny and hot. For unknown reasons, Saturday was chilly and overcast, which prevented us from having our commemoration candlelight dinner on Saturday out in the patio under a new moon. Sunday, on the other hand, was warmish with an occasional visit of the sun in the morning and more permanent in the afternoon.

 

THE GROUP

Ampleforth

Simon Clayton (D72) and Márcia

Douai

Jeremy Ribeiro dos Santos (F66)
Nicholas Ribeiro dos Santos (F70)

Downside

Jeremy Coate (S95 – out from the UK)
Philip Coate (S58) and Marlene
Peter Doyle (B56) and Graça
Alan Morgan (S59) and Xymena
Cecil Ruttimann (Ra75)
Igor Zibordi (S98) and Luisa 

As guest we had the honour of receiving my daughter, Georgiana Morgan and her friends Lilian Fernandes and Giorgio Rocha.

Sadly, Jeremy and Nicholas Ribeiro dos Santos had to leave after breakfast and Peter and Graça Doyle before lunch on Sunday.

ABSENT MEMBERS

Unfortunate, due to unexpected occurrences, the following had to cancel out at the last minute:

John Mills(R55), whose wife, Monica, went down with flu;

James Windham-Bellord(C92), had his car broken into just before leaving, with the loss of his possessions.

We also missed the company of Susan and Loretta, wives of Jeremy and Nicholas Ribeiro dos Santos.

THE HIGHLIGHTS

Friday arrivals were Peter and Graça Doyle and myself, accompanied by my wife, Xymena.

The others started turning up on Saturday in time for several rounds of caipirinhas and beers before sitting down for lunch.

The highlight of Saturday was the Happy Hour (8.30 p.m.) and Dinner served about 9.30 p.m.

At the Happy hour, capped by a variety of tidbits, prosecos were served in honour of the anniversaries of Peter Doyle (73) and Alan Morgan (70) who celebrated their birthday on October 14th and 13th respectively, entitled to a birthday cake served at dinner.

At dinner, the welcoming address was followed by a message from Dom Leo Maidlow Davies and Dom Aidan Bellender, Headmaster and Abbot of Downside.

FLASHBACKS

After breakfast on Saturday, myself, together with my wife Xymena and Peter Doyle, went out to scout the next door village, Formoso, and the nearby town, São Jose do Barreiro, with very well preserved 18th and 19th century colonial buildings.

Before that, the breakfast party, together with Georgiana Morgan and Lilian Fernandes, went out to the nearby field to see a sweet foal born during the previous night.

After lunch Jeremy and Nicholas Ribeiro dos Santos, Philip and Jeremy Coate, Peter Doyle, Igor and Luisa Zibordi, Simon Clayton, Lilian Fernandes and myself went out in search of the nearby cachoeirinha (little waterfall), just upstream the Fomoso River, which flows past the Hotel. Nothing spectacular, but Jeremy Ribeiro dos Santos could not resist the temptation of dipping in the small pond formed at the base of the cachoeirinha. Dipping in has become his trademark.

Having returned from this sojourn, Simon Clayton, Nicholas Ribeiro dos Santos, Lilian Fernandes and myself climbed into Jeremy Ribeiro dos Santos´s Land Rover Defender to explore the dirt road alongside the Fomoso River, driving by the Fazenda Catadupa, with its lovely early 19th century farm estate house, and climbing uphill until we reached another beautiful and well preserved early 19th century country estate, Fazenda da Barra (1200m), now turned into a Pousada, by the current owners, with the cascading Formoso River in the backyard. A possible venue for a future gathering.

After breakfast on Sunday, Cecil Ruttimann (who arrived about midnight Saturday), my wife and myself, together with my daughter, Georgiana, and Lilian Fernandes and Giorgio Rocha, set out in two cars to go the Cachoeira da Mata (Mata waterfall), uphill from the Hotel. Having missed the entrance of the trail to the waterfall, we climbed all the way to where the road ended, about 1500m, where we had a wonderful view of the Paraíba River Valley. Having enquired from the locals, we retreated back to the trail and after a short walk, reached the Mata waterfall (1300m) with its large pond that received with open arms Lilian Fernandes and Giorgio Rocha in the chilly waters of the Formoso River.

Both days presented good photo opportunities for photo enthusiasts Cecil Ruttimann; Jeremy Coate and Lilian Fernandes with their Canons or Nikons.

RUGBY WORLD CUP

Yes, some of us – Peter Doyle, Jeremy and Nicholas Ribeiro dos Santos, my wife and myself - were brave enough to get up early on Sunday to watch the Finals at 6 a.m. Although a very close call, All Blacks certainly deserved the cup. Notwithstanding that the Bleus were better during the second half, All Blacks had an unbeaten run during the Work Cup series.

 

NEXT YEAR

Tentative date: October 20 (Saturday) and 21 (Sunday), 2012

Venue: A venue that we can maintain our policy of having the place to ourselves. To accommodate Paulista and Carioca bairrismo, we will continue to concentrate on the Bocaina and Mantiqueira Mountain Range area.

An extra effort will be made to bring into the fold absentee members from Downside, other than Ampleforth, Belmont, Douai and Worth resident in Brazil and South America.

 Red Flag your Agenda

Alan Morgan (OG-S59)

Coordinator