Once upon a Twinning Visit

Many years ago, at a time so it now appears, of much greater affluence, Somerset County Council employed (part time) a Twinning Liaison Officer.

This gentleman knew quite a bit about the Orne part of the former Department of Normandy, and when the then Chairman of Milverton Parish Council, Dr David Watson, suggested that the parish should have a twinning link with a village in France, the Officer suggested the village of Longy au Perche. David and his wife, Audrey, had a caravan, and they toured often in France, so it was no pain for them to root out the village, and to their great pleasure, discovered that the Mayor of Longy was Dr Vivares. David proposed that we should twin with them at the next Parish Council meeting and I was happy to second the motion; despite a second proposal that instead of twinning with France, we should twin with Blackpool, the link was confirmed.

Later that summer, an advance party consisting of David and Audrey, Beverley and John Fidell, John Broughton Thompson, Keith and Christine Brooker and Jenny and Tony Hoyle, set off to seal the deal with the village of Longy at an official dinner. Along the way, we passed close to Falaise, where John BT remarked that during World War 2 he and his unit had been hand to hand fighting in this small community. When we arrived for the dinner, I happened to mention this fact to our host, Stan Magnier, himself a wartime Polish fighter, who told the Mayor, and to our astonishment, all the tables which had been laid with Calvados, were cleared, only some minutes later, to be replaced by some Calvados which had obviously been hidden since the war, and we toasted John BT before toasts were drunk to Twinning then anything and everything, which sealed the warmth of the link in the making.

Every succeeding trip for more than 25 years has had its’ special moments, which those of us who have been on many trips including some hairy outings with children from Milverton Primary School, could, and have, regaled dinner parties over the years, but one particular trip sticks forever in the memories of the Hoyle family.

The bus from Longy bringing our visitors had, apparently broken down on the way to the port of Caen, so arrangements were made to use an alternative bus which happenchance was available. Unfortunately, that bus had just come back from another trip, and was in for servicing, and had not by the start of this journey, had its’ toilets cleaned, so that by the time it had gone, with an already full toilet, from Longy to Caen, then on the ferry for seven hours, then a further four hours from Portsmouth to Milverton, the toilet was….. well I won’t labour the point.

To be continued!