Twinning weekend in Eastry, June 2013.  Version Français

After all the committee and planning meetings the weekend was finally upon us; if we hadn't arranged it by now it was too late! We'd had many thoughts as to what to do for our guests over the weekend, where we could have an evening meal, where we could visit. Proposals were talked over, those that were practical were investigated, some proved impossible because of costs, others because the dates clashed with other bookings or the group was too large for a given venue, but eventually we had all the elements in place. Finally the ideas were condensed into a workable plan and the committee set to work organising the various aspects of the weekend.

The village hall was booked for the evening reception on Friday, arrangements were made with Canterbury cathedral and plans drawn up for the groups to be guided through the cathedral and we had the added bonus of two 'extras' not normally granted to the usual tourists - entry to the Huguenot chapel and a private viewing of the Eastry silver. Jasin's restaurant at the end of Deal pier was booked and menus arranged together with a musician for entertainment after the meal. A picnic lunch at Eastry Court on Sunday was one of the first firm decisions made for the weekend. Following the very kind offer from Lord and Lady Freud to use this historic house as a venue, we were very quick to accept the offer! So, hopefully everything was in place, now it was time to enjoy the fruits of our labour.

Friday 7th June.

Everyone gathered at the village hall awaiting the coach from Longpré, text messages from their jumelage President Jean-marc, kept us informed as to their progress and finally the coach was spotted coming into Eastry. There was a definite buzz in the hall as everyone greeted each other and old friendships were renewed with much handshaking, kissing and hugging. Welcome speeches from the president Jean-marc (Longpré) and chairman, Terry (Eastry) were followed by an exchange of gifts. Eastry received an illustrated and very informative book of 'The Somme Bay' in French with English translations, a very useful guide for the visitor to the region. (Perhaps we can lend it to the membership on a rota, so we are all informed before our visit to Longpré in 2014?). Eastry presented Longpré with two candlesticks and candles, replicas taken from the famous Romanesque (Norman) columns in the 11th century crypt. It was clear that most people were tired after the busy day, either travelling or with last minute preparations, so shortly after the formalities were over everyone made their way home for a well earned but all too brief sleep; we had to be off to Canterbury in a few hours.

Evening reception at Eastry village hall
Exchange of gifts

Saturday 8th June.

The morning was cold and cloudy despite what the forecast had predicted as we made our way to Canterbury for the visit to the cathedral. Once everyone had arrived we made our way to the precincts to begin our tour. With four guides nominated, Terry and Bill taking English speakers around and Marion and Mike leading a party of French each, we set off around the cathedral on our tour. Terry had arranged for us to visit the Huguenot chapel formerly the Black Prince's Chantry, and the Eastry silver - normally kept under heavy lock and key in a display in the crypt -  was set out for us to see in a private room. To avoid congestion in these areas the groups started and finished their tour at 4 different locations which seemed to work surprisingly well. At the end of the tour it was nearly midday and the rest of the afternoon was free to explore Canterbury or surrounds. As we gathered in the precincts to make sure everyone was present, an impromptu fly past of the Red Arrows with trailing smoke added a nice touch, the timing of which would have been difficult to better if it had been organised!

Bell Harry tower Canterbury cathedral, outside and looking up to the vaulted ceiling inside.

   The Eastry silver

 - inset - the engraving on the jug 'Deo Servatori'


After a chance to relax for a little while (for most at least) it was time for the coach to take us to Deal for the evening meal. What was supposed to be a pleasant stroll along the pier, admiring the warm colours and glow of the sinking sun behind the eclectic styles of  Deal seafront, turned into a headlong dash for sanctuary in the restaurant at the far end of the pier as the icy north wind whipped up the waves beneath us - the temperature was about 13°C and the chill factor of the wind took it to well below that. Once inside there was time to look back at Deal seafront and the cold wind soon forgotten. After a very pleasant meal served up by the owners and staff of Jasin's restaurant we were entertained by Jo Scott who soon had everyone up and dancing and although officially I think we were supposed to finish at 23:00, as everyone seemed to be having a great time we were allowed to carry on for a while longer. The trip back along the pier was no warmer but for some reason no-one really seemed bothered!


Sunday 9th June.

For some involved with the twinning, Sunday morning is reserved for the petanque game between Eastry and Longpré, it has become a tradition over the years and the competition to win the Ashes is both friendly and serious, although neither team would admit that they were trying very hard to win! Longpré has, perhaps not surprisingly, had the greater success and were current holders of the Ashes but if we wanted them we were going to have to play well to win them, Longpré would not give them up easily. For those not playing in the competition the morning was free to do as they pleased, some came along to support their players others went to have a look at the French Weekend which had coincidentally been organised by the Sandwich town council on the same weekend.

The petanque competition got underway, a match consists of 5 separate games, and to keep the competition exciting the two games of triples took place first (two separate games of 3 people from each team with two boule each). Eastry did surprisingly well and won both of these games meaning that they had only to win one of the three remaining games of doubles (3 separate games of 2 against 2 using 3 boule each). {If the doubles are played first and one team wins all three, the match is lost and consequently the games of triples are played with only pride left to salvage). The doubles games were quite evenly matched and a few anxious glances at the scoreboards showed that it was by no means over. Terry and I were having to play well to keep in touch with Arnaud and Maxime, the same was true for Robert and Ray on the piste next to us where Vincent and Jean-marc were putting up a strong fight.

Vincent puts Robert under pressure!

Jean-marc checks Robert's measuring.

Robert - has he moved?

However, on the third piste, Graham and Dennis were beginning to make some headway against Alain and Lucas, and it was this game that gave us a victory, luckily, as we lost both the other games, a 3:2 win to Eastry and the Ashes were ours for 2013. After the competition there was an exchange of trophies - and the obligatory team photos (although I now realise we failed to honour our opponents with the traditional 3 cheers, so they are here now to correct that error. Three cheers for Longpré!  Hip Hip Hooray, Hip Hip Hooray, Hip Hip Hooray!]

L to R:- Jean-marc, Terry, Arnaud, Maxime, Nick, Graham, Teresa, Dennis, Robert, Vincent, Alain, Lucas, Ray

Terry receives the ashes from Jean-marc


There was little time for celebration though as we had the picnic at Eastry Court; we'd brought the time forward to 12:30 as the coach had to leave before 15:00 in order to get to the ferry on time. Everyone gathered in the garden and there was genuine appreciation of the superb location and privilege we'd been granted in using it. Everyone I spoke to, French or English, commented on what a lovely idea it had been to hold the picnic there, with the lovely gardens and house and the unique history associated with it, the only thing lacking was the sun which had let us down again. (On the Friday evening when we were setting out the tables and chairs, the sun shone warmly and everything looked set for a beautifully sunny weekend, unfortunately even the very able committee members of ETA were unable to do much about this).


Buffet prepared by members of the association

Despite this, everyone seemed to have a great time and the buffet laid on by the members of the association was superb. The time passed all too quickly and soon everyone was having to gather their belongings together to board the coach and head off back to France, but not before Paullette, wife of René, mayor of Longpré presented our hostess Cilla with a bouquet of flowers on behalf of both twinning associations, and René thanking  David and Cilla and the Eastry association for the welcome and hospitality they had offered.

To the usual calls of "L'année prochaine" the coach pulled away from Eastry and that was the end of another twinning weekend. It is now time to start organising Rememberance day and Armistice day 2013!

Finally, the David Skinner trophy for the best decorated business goes to S and C Baitup, Family Butchers, as judged by the JM the president of Longpré jumelage. Thanks to everyone for taking part, and although this year we didn't spend too much time in the village your contribution to making the weekend a success is still much appreciated.