Friends from Longpré visit Eastry 5-7 May 2006.

16 people travelled from Longpré in two minibuses on Friday 5th May, arriving at the village hall at about 21:00 hrs, before the Eastry committee had had time to decorate the hall as intended. Due to an earlier event, we were unable to gain access until 20:45, so we were part way through the preparations when our guests arrived.

After a wine reception and welcome speeches from Twinning Chairman Terry James and Parish Council Chairwoman Iris Mollart, the newly elected chairman from Longpré, Jean Marc Vermoeren thanked us for the forthcoming weekend.  A minute's silence for the passing of Dave Skinner and Michael Lewin was observed by the two communities.  Following this, new hosts and guests were introduced and old acquaintances re-established before people took their guests home.

Wine reception

Graham, Teresa and Laurence

Jean Marc, Iris and Terry

Terry gives out some England flags (to cheer on the England football team!)

The 5 Bells decorated for the Twinning weekend

Saturday 6th May. Saturday was going to be a busy day.  In the morning we had organised a visit to Dover castle and Hell Fire Corner followed by a picnic at Samphire Ho. After lunch, we were visiting Barnsole vineyard for a tour and tasting, and in the evening we had a fish and chip supper followed by apple pie and ice cream in the village hall, with entertainment from the Offcumdums and Eastry Theatrical Company.

The morning started bright, warm and sunny but a few minutes of rain put the picnic in jeopardy; luckily it soon stopped and everyone finished their meals in the dry. The rain came down in earnest by the afternoon but fortunately most of the vineyard tour was under cover. The tour seemed well received and the wine-tasting and degustation greatly appreciated, with the owner explaining the process of winemaking in French and English.  After the tour, families had some spare time to relax and prepare for the evening at the village hall.

Meeting up at Dover castle

The ops room

From Hellfire corner to the castle

Teresa, Graham, Arnaud, Laurence and Maxime

The picnic

In between the showers

In the showers!

The vineyard tour

After giving people the chance to get re-acquainted and seated, the evening kicked off with the Offcumdums and their inimitable style of Morris dancing, which totally stunned the French.  Supper was cod and chips supplied by Eastry Fish Bar and apple pie and ice-cream kindly made at home by Peta and Robin (not the ice-cream!).  Entertainment was supplied by several members of Eastry Theatrical Company and later Jeannette Smith played four pieces, including the National Anthem and La Marseillaise, on the saxophone.

The Offcumdums

Eastry Theatrical Company entertain

Sunday morning dawned with the annual Petanque match to win the 'Ashes' trophy. Initially, the French looked worryingly professional but, little by little, the home team whittled away their advantage and the tournament ended 4:1 to Eastry.  This was followed by the traditional exchange of gifts and a carvery lunch in the Five Bells 'Old Fire Station' for Petanque players and their families. 

The petanque match

The meal in the 'Old Fire Station'

Presentation of the Dave Skinner Memorial trophy to Keith from Eastry Fish bar and Paul from the Foodstores


 After the meal, the final judging of the 'Best Dressed Business' in Eastry took place, with the French Chairman of the Twinning Association, Jean-Marc, making the ultimate decision.  The 'Dave Skinner Memorial' trophy was awarded jointly to two businesses - The Food-stores and Eastry Fish Bar - which had made equally colourful and imaginative window displays and both owners and staff were there to receive the trophy.  Afterwards, people took their guests away for a quieter couple of hours before 6.30 when the minibuses departed for Dover, the Channel and home to La Belle France Much continental kissing  and bonhomie took place at the leave-taking and the twinning seemed to have been re-invigorated, hopefully ready for a large, friendly invasion of Eastry people into Longpré next year.