Longpré visit to Eastry 6th -8th June 2008

After much preparation the twinning weekend was finally upon us and we waited for the arrival of the Longpré contingent on Friday evening. The reception was being held in the function room (The Old Fire Station) of the 5 Bells pub, and despite keeping an eye open for them, the two mini buses managed to drive past and turn into Church Street before we realised. Once the mini buses were parked safely the Longiprats were welcomed to Eastry and new members were introduced to their opposite numbers and former friends re-acquainted. After the welcome speeches gifts were exchanged, a clock with the Eastry Fleur-de-Lys on the face and calendars showing scenes from the local area were given to the French and we received a rose from Longpré, a variety known as 'The Rose of Picardie' - the department where Longpré is situated.

After drinks and nibbles the hosts took the guests home, the weekend had started!

Saturday morning was a bit grey and overcast but it did not dampen anyone's enthusiasm, the first organised event was a trip to the Goodchilds bakery in Deal for a hands on demonstration of baking.

 Owing to the number of people who wanted to go on the visit it was split into two groups, the first making a large wheat sheaf which was later baked and presented to the group to take home, the second group made olive and pesto breads which were cooked and delivered to the evening party.

Saturday evening saw a flurry of activity in the village hall, there was a lot of preparation to be done getting the tables laid out and set up, food to prepare and numerous wine bottles to open. The Manwood Jazz Band were providing the musical entertainment and they were also busy setting up on stage and warming up.

People were welcomed with a glass of mead to the music of the Jazz Band before taking their seats. All looked calm and organised front of house but in the kitchen there was frantic work going on. Thanks to all those who worked so hard in the kitchen, over 60 plates of food were cooked and delivered to the tables in a very short time, we had people cooking sausages (purchased appropriately enough from the pig breeder in Ham) while others mashed potatoes and prepared the onion gravy. A team plated up and others waited on tables, all in all it ran surprisingly smoothly. There was also a buffet of cold food supplied from Chris Goodchild's bakery for those that were still hungry or didn't like sausage and mash! Cheese and Port finished the meal and the Manwood's band played on.

Sunday morning saw the traditional game of petanque at the 5 Bells, it was close up to the final end (there are 5 games played in a match, two games of triples and 3 games of doubles), it all hinged on the last game and Longpré took the initiative to win the match to retain the 'ashes'. After the game gifts were exchanged and the ashes re-presented, this was followed by a traditional Sunday roast in the Old Fire Station, served to us by waitresses dressed for the part with berets and stripy tops.

There was just time after the meal for the guests and hosts to return home for a final glass of wine before heading off to the mini buses for the return journey to France, accompanied by much cheek kissing and calls of 'Année prochaine'.

Well, that was it for another year, we'd managed to organise a very enjoyable weekend (according to the comments we received from both guests and hosts) and what was even more amazing, we had done it on budget - helped greatly by the decision to sell tickets to friends for the Saturday evening, not only did this help with the finances but the extra people added to the great atmosphere.

See the gallery below for other photos of the weekend.