The visit to Longpré in May 2007

The report of our trip as published in the Eastry Village News (July/August 2007)

Photos below.

On Friday, 11May, twenty-four heavily armed twinners left the safety of our village redoubt to brave the Chunnel and from there to proceed to that bastion of hospitality, Longpré-les-Corps-Saints. On arrival we stormed their town hall and were met with a barrage of Gallic kisses. We responded with a salvo of handshakes and a volley of smiles. They counter-attacked with drinks and cake.

Then came the risky stratagem of deploying the tactical unclear presents. The French got in first and fired a superb silk print across our right flank. We rallied and launched a Dave Chisholm cartoon that sent them reeling. Honours drawn, we repaired to our bivouacs to recharge our batteries for the challenges that undoubtedly lay ahead of us.

The Saturday dawned fine but windy. The Longiprats sought to gain the advantage by splitting our forces. Our beguiling French guides led us a merry dance around the villages and valleys of Picardy and the Bay of the Somme. Enthralled as we were by the scenes that we saw, we never lost sight of the battle that lay ahead – the infamous country dancing.

Dispersed during the day we might have been, but Eastryites would have been proud of the manoeuvres, so skilfully executed, that brought us back into fighting formation at the Longpré village hall that night. However, prior to H-hour, fifth columnists plied us with tasty victuals and infernal concoctions in order to weaken our morale. Some indeed did succumb to these oh-so-French wiles and these were declared hors de combat – no names, no pack drill. Therefore, with our forces somewhat weakened, we took to the field. The Longiprats had chosen the terrain well and had the advantage of fresh reinforcements – a very competent regiment of professional musicians and dancers. Undismayed, and relying on our training and discipline, we engaged the French in a series of merciless mêlées. We refused to dance to their tune, and so confused ourselves as much as them that, despite some solo heroic efforts on our part, each side finally retired from the field in a state of honourable exhaustion.

Sunday dawned overcast and drizzly. Suffering from the after-effects of yesterday’s exertions, but armed to the teeth with our trusty boules, we went on the piste at 1000 hours. However, this was when we finally met our Waterloo. Thoughtless of any collateral damage, the Longiprats deployed their BMD (boules of mass destruction). We mounted a determined resistance and suffered numerous casualties, some, it has to be said, as a result of friendly fire. Eventually conceding defeat, we beat a tactical retreat and fought a rearguard action in a nearby hostelry.

Later that afternoon, after an armistice had been negotiated, our stragglers, looking surprisingly refreshed and in good spirits, regrouped at the designated embarkation point. We boarded our transport, and, as we departed, the mischievous Longiprats taunted us with blood-curdling cries of l’année prochaine. With our upper lips as stiff as ever, we managed some courageous smiles and in due course took our leave of them, thinking to ourselves all the time, “Yes, next year. Next year it will be our turn!”

Terry James

Photographs from the visit to Longpré in May 2007

The exchange of gifts

The painted silk banner

Small frog being photographed

Replica Bronze age boat

Poters wheel at Samara

Knapped flint tools, Samara

A celebrity snail being photgraphed

The picnic at Samara

The banquet at the evening dance (delicious!)

Guests at the folk dancing


The Sunday morning petanque match


Teresa recieves a trophy

Graham, Teresa and Thierry

At the Cafe du Sport

The petanque teams

Jean Marc's T-shirt (see below)

"Two beer or not two beer"

Sunday dinner with Patricia and Jean Marc