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Past Events 2017

March 2017 Walking Weekend Chateau
We departed as usual on the Friday morning with no delays at Dover. After a smooth crossing we left Calais and stopped off mid-route at the Aire de la Baie de Somme to enjoy the wildlife in the glorious sunshine and grab some lunch. We arrived in MSA mid-afternoon to enable us to do the ‘supermarché sweep’ and have a few drinks before meeting up with our hosts early evening.
On Saturday, we set off on a 12k circular walk from St. Pierre-de-Varengeville (about 16k from MSA) which was mostly flat following an old railway line with just a couple of hills. The French had pre-arranged a delightful lunch at La Firangle restaurant and in the afternoon we had a short 4k walk down a steep incline to the River Seine with Rouen in the background and then a steep walk back to our starting point.
Those, whose legs were still working, then staggered off to the Centre d’Art Contemporain de la MATMUT which was located in a beautiful château in the village. The current exhibition featured local artist, Dominque Vervisch, who is famous for his paintings depicting penguins and highlighting the effects of climate change.
In the evening we assembled for dinner and a quiz in a community centre in MSA. The categories for the quiz were:
1) The history of 50 years of Twinning with Barsinghausen (which was a bit tricky as none of the English and the majority of the French had not been there!)
2) ‘Poisson d’avril!’ translated as ‘You Mean Fishy!’ – as it was April Fool’s Day. (The tradition in France is to put a fish sticker on a person’s back). Rather than being ‘trick’ questions , they were in fact all to do with water/sailing/seas with just one question on fish!
3) Shakespeare – as there was at least 1 English person on the majority of tables this was supposed to be for us but as so often happens some of the French knew more about Shakespeare than we did and one of us will forever be known as Mrs Wimpy!
4)True/False Friends – this was the most interesting and most successful round for most of the teams working out what for example: crane (Eng) and crâne (Fr) meant.
The next day, several of the English were guided around Rouen by their hosts before departing at 1.00 p.m. for the journey home. Again we stopped off at the Aire de la Baie de Somme…again in glorious sunshine so we were slightly shocked to find Calais in a blanket of thick fog – une veritable soupe de pois – which miraculously lifted literally as we were in front of Dover harbour. All credit to Captain ‘Pugwash’ Watson who helped to guide the ferry through the fog by sitting at the pointy end!!!
A great weekend altogether.
Picture Gallery of March 2017 walking weekend in France

Past Events 2016

September 2016 September Chatham Image
A delayed arrival by our French visitors due to queues at the Shuttle didn’t alter our early start time when we gathered again to join our coach on Saturday morning and set off for Chatham Dockyard. A trifle too early as it turned out but we had our money’s worth with the prompt entry.
The guided tour of the Ropery , where rope is still made today, challenged the translation into French of the many technical terms but fascinated everyone with the method used.
The walk/ climb through the submarine was equally challenging as regards moving through the doorways but highlighted the lack of space. Then free time for an easier wander around the large site whether it be to see the sailing ship or the frigate, Clocktower or Lifeboat Museum. All highly interesting and everyone thought the extended displays were much improved since the last joint Twinning visit many years ago.
Blessed (as so often) with good weather we could enjoy our picnic lunch in the sunshine with the added entertainment of watching the toings and froings of a wedding party who were married on board the sailing vessel we had toured shortly before! Thanks to Lindsey and Roy for a great day out.
A quick journey home meant a little rest time for most whilst some headed to Rickards Hall to help Terri and her small team setting up the tables and places as well as the preparing the food for our supper together. A very tasty meal with lots and lots of chatting was enjoyed by all and the evening rounded off by a Raffle which the French find great fun.
Thanks go to Jill , Ben , Caroline and many, many others but especially Terri. And it was fantastic to see such a hive of activity by so many at the final clearing-up. Well done all!
After spending the morning with their hosts and having a quick shop around Waitrose our French visitors enjoyed Sunday coffee and cake with us before heading off home in their cars.
Picture Gallery of September 2016 visit to Chatham Dockyard

June 2016 June Somme Newfoundland Memorial
This visit proved very interesting and enjoyable despite the low numbers participating this year. Having discarded the intended coach and after various hiccups before departure, it was a band of 14 who left on the Friday morning; some stalwart Twinners; others less familiar with the journey. After the regular stops at Baie de la Somme for refreshments en route and the MSA Carrefour we met our hosts early Friday evening. Saturday saw us up early to board a coach with our hosts, our group now enlarged by other French Twinners and it was off to the area of the Somme containing the 1st World War battlefields.
The first stop was at Beaumont Hamel with its small cemetery and visitor centre dedicated to the Royal Newfoundland Regiment. Moving stories of the soldiers leaving their families and hard life behind and travel such a long way to give colonial support to the British cause were a fascinating if poignant read. Leaving their trenches on 1st July at 9am, half an hour later only 68 remained unscathed making it one of the bloodiest actions of the Somme. An impressive bronze statue of a caribou, the Regiment emblem, sits high on a mound overlooking the now grass covered trenches.
A short stop was then made at the Lochnagar Crater now the only crater accessible to the public and is 100m diameter and 30m in depth. It was the result of mining under enemy lines to place explosives which were then blown on the 1st July as the first action before the infantry assault.
The next site could be seen from some distance as it topped a hill. This was Thiepval Cemetery and this most striking of memorials was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and has engraved upon its walls the names of the more than 72,205 men declared missing in the Somme between July 1915 and March 1918. Amongst them in the section dedicated to the West Kent Regiment we found marked six from the local Edenbridge area and Stuart McGregor, Chairman of Edenbridge Town Council, was able to lay a poppy wreath.
The last visit of the day was to the Battle Museum at Peronne with many interesting artefacts and information and given from three points of view ie. French, British and German as you can see from the picture below.
On our return to MSA we had a short break before it was time to meet again for a very tasty meal together in the centre of town where we were able to lighten our mood with lively chat and laughter with our French friends.
Sunday morning and there was a variety of activities with our hosts, including a visit to the St. Sever Cemetery in Rouen where two more local servicemen are buried and Stuart McGregor was able to lay another poppy wreath on behalf of Edenbridge.
Following a light Brunch we made our way home on an earlier ferry and therefore an early arrival home. Although a more sombre visit at times it was yet another very enjoyable weekend.
Picture Gallery of June 2016 visit to the 100 anniversary of the WW1 Battle of the Somme

March Walkers
Arriving late on the Friday evening it was a small group of French who came over from Mont St. Aignan to visit Edenbridge for the Walking Weekend, early in March.
Fully rested it was up early for a very busy day on the Saturday! The walk was based around the Mark Beech public house ‘The Kentish Horse’ where cars could be parked and easily available for those who didn’t feel up to a whole day’s tramp and were to depart after the lunch time meal.
Most importantly the day was dry though cold and with no wind the mist took some while to clear which meant the splendid views the organisers had planned to be on display didn’t materialise till later in the morning. However plenty of interesting and typical Kentish / E Sussex buildings were on view as the route went across rolling fields via Horseshoe Green and Moat Lane before returning near Cowden Station and up to the Mark Beech again. A recce had been made a few weeks before causing a shortening of the planned route due to the heavy and waterlogged ground proving very tiring and making for slow progress. Although drying had begun an overnight deluge of rain during the week before had returned the wet conditions. All made it safely back to the pub where some non-walking ‘Twinners’ joined us for the very tasty meal. Those carrying on trekking through the afternoon were rewarded by some sunshine for a short while and some more lovely countryside as the paths toured around to Cowden village and then back up the hills to our start point again.
The slow pace made for only a brief rest at home for all, whether guests, hosts or walkers before the many ‘Twinners’ met together again to attend the Barn Dance organised by the Edenbridge Hockey Club that evening. The music by local act Round House folk was very catchy and so more energy was found to skip, promenade and ‘do-si-do’ in between the chat about the day’s walking experiences. A number of our French guests are now quite experienced Barn Dancers but it was much appreciated that the Caller, Bernard Oldfield, had brushed up on his French words for the various dance moves!
The French walkers spent the short Sunday morning with their hosts before meeting at Waitrose for a restock of favourite English goodies like tea, marmalade and Stilton cheese and hosts could then wave them goodbye after another very successful reunion.
Picture Gallery of March 2016 Walking Weekend around Edenbridge

Past Events 2015

September Joan of Arc Image
A small number of ‘Twinners’ set off in cars for Dover on the Friday morning at the end of September to cross the channel and on to Mont St. Aignan, our Twin Town. After a chance to stock up with favourite French items at the local Carrrefour we met with our hosts who were to look after us over our two nights stay. After a meal, it was then a late evening trip into the darkness and into nearby Rouen where we spent an hour or so gazing spellbound at the wonderful Light Show that illuminated the magnificent cathedral there. This spectacle has been available to view each evening during the summer months and, to the accompaniment of suitable music, the lights paint a picture first telling the story of the arrival of the Norsemen who fought to take over the area centuries ago and with a following tale of the peasant girl now known as Jeanne d’Arc who met her untimely end in Rouen.
The next morning it was off to the Chateau of Villarceaux by coach where our English speaking guide walked us around this rare French example of a preserved water garden which make use of the many springs found on the site. These are, in fact the very reason for the establishment of a settlement here as early as the 11th or 12th century with a Priory, followed later with a fortified manor house. One can still visit the tower with a source of pure water at its base still springing forth today which made for a secure source in case of siege in the troubled times of the 15thc being located as it was near the edge of the then French realm where it bordered with Normandy, a separate state. The estate also has a claim to fame for the layout of the grassy rise, which mounts from the lake to the 18c rococo upper chateau and, although originally of an 18c English design, it is now only to be found here in France. It is called ‘Farthingale’ or Vertugadin in French as it mimicked the tight folds of the wide hooped pannier skirts worn by noblewomen from the 16 century. After a look around the pleasant house with its wonderful views over the lake and countryside we returned to MSA and readied ourselves for an evening chatting together over a tasty meal in the local Scout Hall.
Sunday morning we again met in Rouen but this time to tour the newly opened Jeanne d’Arc exhibition housed in an old building next to the cathedral. We all learnt a lot more about her story and in particular the politics of the time which made her demise inevitable as she became a pawn between the many different groups vying for power, French and English, Church and State.There was just time for some drinks and snacks; say our farewells and thank our hosts for another splendid time with them before heading back to Calais and the ferry home.
Picture Gallery of September 2015 Mini Visit to Villarceaux and J'd'Arc Musee

June 2015June visit to Arundel... Castle gates.
Following the enjoyable ‘Walking Weekend’ at the end of March in Mont St. Aignan, France, with our French twinning friends, it was our turn to host recently when a group of 32 arrived in June late Friday evening by coach, ready to spend a short but enjoyable weekend with their English counterparts. The Saturday outing for all visitors, their hosts and other ‘Twinners’ was to Arundel Castle and town which began with a guided tour of the Howard family home, followed by a picnic in the pleasant grounds and then time to wander freely around the town till meeting the coach to return to Edenbridge and homes. The Castle was a maze of rooms and history, and the town an interesting collection of old buildings, shops and the dominant Catholic Church. There was the chance to visit the only divided church in the country with the catholic part in the Castle grounds and the entrance to the Protestant side from the Town’s street.  For me, the icing on the cake, was to see the Castle gardens which were looking absolutely magnificent with such interesting planting, whether in the formal area, the small ‘rooms’ full of flowers, the water features, the grottoes, the vegetable patches, the greenhouses or even the Stumpery! A short lay-in was allowed for the French guests on the Sunday morning but was soon followed by visits to local church services, to Waitrose, to stock up on favourite English provisions, or for the few first-timers’ to take a quick wander along the historic High Street of Edenbridge. All met together again at Rickards Hall for a midday Brunch before then waving goodbye to the French who headed back to MSA. Another enjoyable visit and we now look forward to the 25-27 September when a group from the Edenbridge and District have a chance to see Villarceaux Chateau and the new Jeanne d’Arc museum in Rouen, near to Mont St. Aignan, during the next weekend exchange between the two twin towns and their districts.
Picture Gallery of June 2015 Visit to Arundel

March 2015AprilWalkingWeekend Church Tower
A small group made the trip to MSA for the first 2015 weekend exchange with our French friends of Mont St. Aignan- A walking weekend. Time enough on our Friday journey to enjoy a pleasant wander at the Baie de la Somme rest area and a visit to Carrefour in MSA meant we were in good form when we met our hosts early in the evening. On Saturday, unfortunately, the weather was as forecast, somewhat damp and windy, but the group still enjoyed chatting together renewing and establishing fresh friendships whilst ambling along through the woods and fields around the village and park of Clere. We were treated to a spread of wild daffodils and wood anemones under the trees, something even we in our rural area don’t see now. Lunch in a small restaurant was very tasty and although some walkers retired for a quieter afternoon elsewhere with their hosts, the majority continued to tour another footpath loop. The weather cleared for a while and we just made it back to the cars to return home when the serious rain fell.
Having exercised our legs it was our brains that were needed on the Saturday evening when we joined together again and, with some new French faces to help make up teams, we enjoyed a quiz. Slightly easier than in previous years the challenge to answer the questions, thoughtfully made to need the knowledge of both groups, French and English, was still very tricky. And it was capped by the last round of difficult puzzle ones, but at least prizes were given to all as consolation at the end. And of course we were eating our way through a tasty 3 course meal at the same time!
After a Sunday morning spent with hosts we gathered together for the last time at the Chairman’s home for a midday brunch before waving goodbye after another successful weekend exchange. The trip home was very windy also as forecast but eventually our ferry docked at Calais (with the aid of tugs!) and after a lumpy crossing all 3 cars and their passengers safely returned.
Picture Gallery of March 2015 Walking Weekend

Past Events 2014

September 2014 Bonfire Picture
The September mini visit by our friends from MSA combined a visit to the Cinque Ports area and a ceremony to unveil the gift presented in 2013 by the MSA twinning group.  The MSA group arrived by cars during Friday afternoon and evening. Saturday saw us with an early start for a bus ride to Chapel Le Ferne Battle of Britain Memorial. Although still unfinished the memorial was still impressive. Then we went to Walmer Castle, built by Henry VIII as part of coastal artillery defensive chain, and official residence of the Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports. The Duke of Wellington held the post for 23 years and enjoyed his time spent at the castle and in recent years Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother made regular visits to the castle. After a picnic we set for Deal and walk along the beach. We finished the day at Sandwich; Cinque port, up the River Stour. Oddly we found out that Sandwich was overrun and ransacked by the French in 1457. After a night spent with their hosts the MSA party meet EDTA at Mount St Aignan Way to see the unveiling of the sign presented to Edenbridge in 2013, by the current council chairperson. After an al fresco brunch at the Town hall the MSA group set off home in their cars.
Picture Gallery of September 2014 Mini Visit

May 2014 Bonfire Picture
The long awaited visit to Versailles came to pass this May. We left on Friday morning in a Skinners coach driven by our driver Billy. We used the ferry, as always, to get to France and drove to Mont Saint Aignan; stopping for a comfort break at Baie deSomme service station. We arrived at MSA about 17:00hrs French time which gave us about 45mins shopping at the local Carrefour before making our way to As de Coquet, Mont Saint Aignan to meet our hosts. We met at As de Coquet because there was a minor reception hosted by the new deputy mayor of MSA following the local elections in March. Reception concluded we made our way home with our hosts.
Saturday was an early start; using a locally hired coach we and our hosts made our way to Paris then out to the Versailles Palace. This spectacular palace and vast grounds was instigated by Louis XIV (1661-1715), the Sun King. The build progressed from 1664 to 1710, interrupted occasionally by wars, but the king and his court occupied it from 1682. In its heyday the scale was mind-blowing; one example being there were 34,000 people working in the gardens. Louis XV lived there as did Louis XVI until the French Revolution (1789-1799). During this period the furniture was auctioned off and ultimately became a museum. When Napoleon was created emperor in 1800 he resided at Versailles but not in the main palace, he used the second of the palaces, the Grand Trianon, in the grounds of Versailles although apartments were used by his wife the empress Marie-Louise. During the restoration of the monarchy, then the second revolution, then the second empire, all the way through to today, the Fifth Republic, the main palace was still ignored as a residence. It is however a premier French museum and foremost tourist attraction.
It is expected that Versailles will have about 24 million visitors a year. When we arrived and walked into the grand “corps de logis” it seemed as if they had all turned up on the same day as us. Sensibly our French organisers had arranged for the group to do the gardens in the morning and the grand palace in the afternoon. In reality there is no way you could see all the gardens in even a couple of days. At a mere 800 hectares( once it was 8000 hectares), encompassing the 2 minor palaces (Grand Trianon and Petite Trianon), miles of waterworks, fountains etc. the gardens seemed endless. Even in the most remote parts there were still crowds of tourists. For lunch we had a picnic. About 15:00hrs we returned to the main palace. At least we did not have to queue, but once in it was clear that 100s of tour groups had the same idea as us. Every room was almost full as tour guides moving their groups from room to room for another 10 minute lecture. Despite this the palace interior is worth the wait. We had arranged to meet back at the coach for 17:30hrs so again we had only really seen a percentage of the grandeur.
We were on a schedule as we had to get back to MSA for an evening party. The event was organised by the Rouko (Burkina-Faso) section of MSA International twinning association. There was an excellent meal and African musicians who were both entertaining and provided the music to enable us to dance. If I remember correctly we went home very late.
Sunday morning was organised by our hosts; meaning the Edenbridge group did lots of individual things. Prior to boarding our coach for our return journey we were given a very nice Brunch. We had an uneventful journey retracing our steps back to Edenbridge.
We are very thankful to the French for organising such a splendid visit to Versailles and MSA. We look forward to seeing many of them this coming autumn in Edenbridge.
                                                              Picture Gallery of May 2014 Visit to the Palace of  Versailles

March 2014 Bonfire Picture
The first 2014 weekend exchange with our friends of Mont St. Aignan came in March when 22 French visited to stay with their English hosts and join the Saturday walk and lunch around Oldbury and Ightham. Quite a hilly area as Oldbury Hill is the site of an iron-age hill fort but a very pleasant country trek with the only rain coming whilst we were safe inside having our meal! In spite of these exertions, hosts and visitors alike rallied again for the evening entertainment as we joined the Edenbridge Hockey Club for their Barn Dance. Indeed the French are becoming enthusiastic experts in this peculiar eccentric English entertainment!
As the French were leaving on the Sunday morning to return in time to vote in their local elections that day, there was just enough time for them to make a quick dash around the new Waitrose in the centre of town to stock up on their favourite English produce such as lemon curd, pickle and cream crackers!
                                                                                                     Picture Gallery of 2014 Walking Weekend

Past Events 2013

November 2014 Bonfire Picture
The Twinning Association again entered a walking party in the 2014 Edenbridge Bonfire Parade. We were fortunate that the French Committee were over for a meeting as it meant we could get 2 of their party to join us. The small picture is of Philip in what might be considered a traditional French outfit. The event lasted longer than expected a we followed a drum band that, although excellent, did do long extended displays of their art that held up the parade more than one once. However we were seen by the might throng of spectators which was good advertising for the Association and collected a large amount of money in our buckets which went to local charities. 
                                                                                                     Picture Gallery of 2013 Bonfire Parade

October (40th Anniversary in MSA) 2014 Anniversary MSA
After the successful 40th Anniversary celebrations in May in Edenbridge, it was the turn of the Edenbridge & District Twinning Association to travel to Mont-Saint-Aignan to continue to mark this special year of ‘Town Twinning’.
Despite travelling there and back in the rain we were so lucky that, for the Saturday and the Sunday morning activities it was cold but fine. This was just as well since after the morning inside at the Ariel cinema we marched, led by the Edenbridge Town Band, from there to the Town Hall and a welcome aperitif from the MSA Council and a chance to warm up!
However before that we began by hearing the speeches from the Mont-Saint-Aignan Mayor, M. Patrice Colasse, our own Chairman of Edenbridge Town Council, Mr. Bob Orridge and also from the Mayor of Brzeg Dolny in Poland and a representative from Barsinghausen in Germany, the last two also being twinned with the French town. There followed an entertaining video showing many occasions and activities of the Twinning Associations over the 40 years, delighting and amusing the mixed audience before ending with the presentation of gifts. Having presented Mont-Saint-Aignan Council and the Twinning Association with an engraved plaque and a painting showing Edenbridge and the local area respectively, Councillor Bob Orridge was pleased to receive on behalf of Edenbridge, a silver commemorative medal from MSA and a decorated clock from Brzeg Dolny, as they were celebrating 10 years of ‘Twinning’ with Mont-Saint-Aignan at the same time.
Outside again we found the Edenbridge Town Band entertaining the local French shoppers and on our arrival at the Town Hall they played the national anthems of the three celebrating towns.
After lunching with our individual French hosts, we separated into differing groups to visit either the nearby city of Rouen with a ride on the little ‘train’ around its cobbled streets, or the Corderie Vallois , the Rouen Botanical Gardens or a museum of steam engines and machinery before joining altogether again for a tasty buffet at the Twinning Association’s meeting room.
The next event was at the village church where the French Scouts and Jeannettes, along with those representing the Edenbridge Brownie pack, sang a couple of songs before the main part of the Concert. This began with Angela Purll from Edenbridge playing the organ, before accompanying a French tenor with the flute and followed by her full flute recital of various pieces. This excellent performance thrilled all present and was then followed by the French choir Passacaille and their chosen music. Many of the songs were picked to represent the various countries celebrating and so the English audience joined in Land of Hope and Glory and the Polish embellished their one too. A church full of people singing ‘Ode to Joy’ together was a suitable climax after which the choir led all to finish with a round of ‘What shall we do with the Drunken Sailor’! What a splendid day!
Sunday may have seemed an anti-climax but not so as, after overnight and breakfast with our hosts, it was on to the local mall where more shoppers were entertained by the Edenbridge Town Band before all gathered to see the red, white and blue ribbon cut by Edenbridge Town Council Chairman, Bob Orridge to open the small exhibition on display there about the many happy years of ‘Twinning’.
To round off the visit the large group then made its way to the local rugby ground where the Edenbridge Rugby Club, having arrived the previous afternoon, were playing a Youth Team match with those from the Mont-Saint-Aignan Club. This meeting, initiated at the May celebratory visit in Edenbridge, ended with a success this time for the English side with much cheering all round for the beginning of a great link between the two Clubs.
There followed a joint brunch, which could possibly be described appropriately as a rugby scrum, as the now even larger group enjoyed the food and drink provided by our hosts. Then a dash for our coaches and the various groups of ‘Twinners’ were on their way home to Edenbridge having great memories of meeting and joining with friends old and new in the true ‘Twinning’ spirit of mutual understanding begun over 40 years ago.
                                                                              Picture Gallery of 40th Anniversary in MSA

May (Pram Race) 2013 May Visit Hever Castle
Edenbridge Pram Race in May - Thanks go to Peter Stevens, our Chairman, who was aided in the Pram Race this year by Veronique, Christine and Philippe, who stayed on after the May weekend specially to take part. The French came with costumes, ready to look the part, dressed as Alice, the Mad Hatter and the White Rabbit, respectively. The Pram suitably adorned with brown teapots plus Peter as another Mad Hatter (definitely) completed the Alice in Wonderland theme requested for the Festival Fun Day.
Well done to all who helped with this effort as the team won the ’Best Dressed Entry’ category, (In spite of hasty repairs needed as the Pram fell off the trailer on its way in to race!) and a First in the Mixed team section.
                                                                                Picture Gallery of May Pram Race 

May (40th Anniversary) 2013 May Speeches
So a year of planning disappears overnight! (or so it seemed)
That was the visit to Edenbridge at the end of May by our French friends from MSA and was enjoyed by all participants. The extra special activities to mark the 40th Anniversary of the signing of the Charter, between the two towns, fulfilled their promise thanks to the various establishments that played their part.
It was also great, to see so many friendly faces, whether ‘twinners’ past, present and new, or people representing links or local associations during the weekend events.
On the Saturday morning at the Rickards Hall Civic Reception, thanks to the good weather, the Courtyard was the place to be when, after the final speeches of welcome and reply, the Chairman of Edenbridge Town Council, Cllr. Bob Orridge accepted on behalf of the town a gift from Mont St. Aignan, presented by M. Hakim Zeghib, Deputy Mayor. With a chance for a coffee & biscuits whilst listening to both the EB Town Band and two French musicians, Bruno and Charles, playing it was a good start to the weekend’s activities.
The day continued well with a tasty meal together at Edenbridge Golf Club followed by a visit to the Castle at Hever and their splendid colourful gardens. Again weren’t we lucky with the weather!
Time for a short rest before the evening entertainment all together when the French discovered the fun of a traditional Barn Dance with music provided by local group, Round House Folk, with more from our guest French musicians. during the interval for our Ploughman’s Supper,
On Sunday morning TopFoto welcomed our visitors and hosts for coffee to view their latest photographic exhibition before everyone met up again at the Sports Pavilion to watch the 2 Rugby matches to be played between 2 Youth teams on an overnight visit from MSA and their Edenbridge counterparts. All then enjoyed sandwiches and cake before the 2 French coaches departed for home. Whew, what a weekend!
                                                          
                                                                    Picture Gallery of May visit to Celebrate the 40th Anniversary

March
2013 Walk Along SeineAt the end of March, some hardy souls set off from Edenbridge on the Friday morning to travel to Mont Saint Aignan for the first exchange of 2013, the 40th Anniversary year, for the Edenbridge & District Twinning Association.
The weather in MSA, as in Edenbridge, had been very cold with snow and a bitter wind for some days before but, as seems usual with our ‘twinning’ trips, after a cold and windy journey, we were lucky on the Saturday of our visit as, although not hot and sunny, it was dry, wind free and actually quite pleasant for the proposed day walk.
Our French friends had prepared a route to take us along both the banks of the Seine, downstream from Rouen, and the nearby River Eure and which included the wildlife area of some reclaimed gravel pits where we did a bit of bird watching whilst enjoying, fellow walker Andre’s, home-made biscuits.
Part of the path took us next to the water between the many houses that fronted the river and where we found early flowers blooming along the banks as it was so sheltered, though presumably vulnerable to flooding on occasion. A much needed idea that spring might not be far away.
Both rivers were in full flow and higher than usual giving a good indication of the strength and power of the water, especially at a large lock and electro-generator barrage near the village of Poses up to which river is tidal from the sea estuary at le Havre. Walking across the barrage bridge one could feel the dramatic effects of the change as the water thundered through the gates with turbines producing electricity. There we could also see the huge barges that troll the river with their cargoes taking their turn through the large locks.
As usual there was an enjoyable lunch at a local hostelry midway through the walk to fuel us for the afternoon route back to our starting point and parked cars for the return to Mont Saint Aignan and the discovery that it was likely, using modern GPS information, we had covered nearer 18 kms rather than the expected 15!
No time for a long rest as, after a quick freshen up, we reassembled together at the MSA Twinning Association hall for our evening entertainment of quiz and tasty supper. Given that some of the quiz masters are ex professors, it was no surprise to find both French and English challenged to answer the various questions posed. Interestingly linked so that all could join in, the struggle to remember, for example, when Queen Victoria had reigned in order for the French to try to recall how many First Ministers of France there had been at the same time, meant that there were many weary brains as well as legs to sleep well that night!
The Sunday morning was spent with hosts before meeting for a departing brunch together when, with many thanks to our kind hosts for a great time; it was good wishes to meet again in May (24th – 26th) when the French arrive by coach for the official 40th Anniversary celebrations in Edenbridge.
                                                          
                           Picture Gallery of March walking weekend along the banks of the Eure and Seine

Past Events 2012

November 2012 Bonfire Float 2CV
November gave the Edenbridge and District Twinning Association another opportunity to advertise their existence by allowing us to enter a walking party float in the Edenbridge Bonfire Parade. This year our theme was Les Deux Chevaux. We had constructed a small version of the 2CV over our racing pram and donned overalls bearing the Citroen logo. We did not win any prizes but collected 2 buckets of donations to local charities. Hard work but enjoyed by those that took part.
                                                          
Picture Gallery of Bonfire Parade

SeptemberIghtham Mote
Once more we were blessed with good weather when 20 French people from Mont St. Aignan came to visit their twin town of Edenbridge last weekend. Some early arrivals spent the afternoon in Canterbury before meeting their hosts for the Friday evening and overnight whilst others came straight from work and school to arrive later that night.
Saturday clear and bright saw hosts, guests and other ‘twinners’ off to Ightham Mote to see the historic house and gardens with the added treat of free tasting of old English varieties of apple, cobnuts and other country produce as it was ‘Orchard Day’ there.
After a picnic lunch together in the sunshine it was off to Quebec House where all were impressed with the delightful house and the children revelled in dressing up in period costumes and playing the games of earlier times.
The exhibition on the exploits of General Wolfe in Quebec highlighted how intertwined are the fortunes of the French and English over the centuries making the forging of friendships through ‘Twinning’ as relevant today as ever. A walk along Westerham High Street rounded off the day and our guests then spent the evening in the company of their hosts.
Sunday brought a chance, in spite of the rain, to see Edenbridge High Street and visit the Co-op to stock up on English fare such as lemon curd and cream crackers and then to enjoy some refreshments at Bridges before departing for the return to France after another successful weekend together.                                                           
                                           Picture Gallery of Twinning outing to Ightham Mote and Quebec House
JuneRiquier
The Friday following the Edenbridge Festival saw a party of nineteen English make their way in cars to Dover in the rain and wind at the start of the June visit to Mont St. Aignan. A much delayed ferry crossing put them in France in time to enjoy a picnic in the newly found sunshine before meeting with some French from Mont St. Aignan for a visit to the town of St. Riquier.
The warm and pleasant weather lasted for the Saturday when a coach took French and English ‘twinners’ to La Roche Guyon, an old rocky site overlooking the Seine where dwellings carved in the cliff face had progressed to Norman fortifications and onwards to medieval castle towers and then to full 18th Century chateau aimed to rival Versailles.
Following a restaurant lunch, the group were then taken to a village with a museum sited on a medieval forge and able to display the many tools produced there for the various past trades. The enclosed garden behind, full of seasonal flowers and shrubs was an unexpected bonus.
The evening and following Sunday morning was enjoyed at leisure with host families before a last farewell brunch heralded our departure for Calais. Another enjoyable visit!

                                                            
                         Picture Gallery of Edenbridge Twinning's Visit to St Riquier and La Roche-Guyon

June
Pram Race 2012June saw EDTA’s involvement in two local events as the Edenbridge Festival Bank Holiday Monday saw the second outing of the ‘Twinning’ team in the Edenbridge Pram Race, though this year without its French and English lady participants. The theme of our team was Le Tour de France. A very creditable 2nd place for the team was achieved, whilst others manned the EDTA promotional stall at the Rotary Festival in Stangrove Park.

                                                          
                                             Picture Gallery of Edenbridge Pram Race

 

April
Jeanettes
April also saw a group of ‘Jeanettes’, complete with leaders and flags, arrived in Edenbridge to meet up with their English counterparts, the Brownies, for a busy four day visit. Not only did they join in special Brownie activities, they were also welcomed by Edenbridge Primary School for a day and even made a sightseeing trip to London. A lot of work making arrangements by the leaders resulted in a very successful first exchange.
                                                                                                         

April
Passacaille ChoirThe April visit to the U K proved a greater challenge than usual since the weekend exchange of a small number of walkers was this year supplemented by a visit from the larger choral group Passacaille. Extra hosts were rallied from around the district and were therefore also able to join in the activities taking place from the Saturday morning and/or afternoon walk, the lunch at the W. I. Hall and also the evening concert in the Parish Church of St. Peter & St. Paul’s. More local flavour was also added to the musical performance when the Edenbridge singing group A Cappella sang a set of British songs to balance those of the French, with a joint finale from Handel’s repertoire. With the addition of other hosts and friends, the midday hot meal provided a chance for all to mix together, the French choir arriving from their morning visit to the Eden Valley Museum and the High Street, to be followed soon after by the walking group, a little weary from their ramble. Much to the organiser’s relief, the weather for the walk proved unexpectedly kind and the local countryside did us proud with its show of bluebells and wild garlic. The afternoon saw the Passacaille choir arrive at the Parish church to meet with A Cappella for a joint rehearsal whilst the walkers set off in a different direction for their second venture in to the local footpaths on offer.
A short and busy weekend, valued by all who took part as they were able to renew old friendships and make new acquaintances during the many activities. Many thanks were given for the hard work arranging.

                  Picture Gallery of Walking Weekend and the Passacaille Choir Visit

Past Events 2011

 

November
Waiter in Bonfire ParadeBonfire Night in Edenbridge gave us the opportunity to dress up and publicise the twinning association. We entered a float in the parade called Entente Cordiale. During the walk we collected about £125 for local charities. We won third place in the Rupert Bear Trophy and came second in the Middle School Shield. There was much time needed to decorate the float and  make costumes, however all of those that took part enjoyed themselves .

                                                          
                                    Picture Gallery of Edenbridge Bonfire Parade Float

September
It was another full weekend during a recent visit made by a group from the Edenbridge & District Twinning Association to our twin town of Mont Saint Aignan (MSA) in Normandy and we were pleased to welcome along some first-time visitors who had decided to try the delights of ‘twinning’ having been reassured that non-French speakers can stay with English speaking hosts. Travelling in cars we left early on the Friday morning enabling us to stop en route at the Abbey and Gardens of Valloire. The gardens are a wonderful display of plants and shrubs and we were pleased to find so much to view in September, enhanced by glorious weather, and I recommend a visit. Our pleasant journey continued, with time for a quick shop at the MSA Carrefour, before our rendezvous and dispersal to the homes of our French hosts with whom we were to stay our two nights. The Saturday event was a visit to the city of Le Havre. Travel there was by a coach shared by the large group from both Twinning Associations. We were aware that the town and port had been devastated by allied bombing after German occupation in the 2nd World War. However it became obvious that it had been completely rebuilt in a futuristic and original style which had been organised in the 1950’s by a group of architects led by the famous Auguste Perret, transforming the town centre from rubble to homes and offices.
And it was done entirely in concrete! Knowing how this material, fashionable in the 50’s and 60’s, has not aged well in the UK it was a surprise to see how good it still appears in Le Havre.The urgent need for homes to be built to a decent standard, with reasonable interior space, but with little money and resources available at the time, resulted in using this material in various finishes made to a particular size. Every structure was based around a measurement of 6.24 metres and largely the buildings, including columns and beautifully adorned details in the concrete structures, were prefabricated on the outskirts of the town.This was revealed when we were taken on a two hour walking tour of the centre of the town by an English speaking guide and included a view of the show apartment, now a museum and filled with furnishings of the time. The public buildings continue the style but at no great height and laid out with tree lined roads between to give a wonderful sense of space.
Not to be missed, should you find yourself with time in Le Havre, is a visit inside the church of St. Joseph’s. Outside something akin to Gotham city but on entry the centre and lantern tower glow with 12,788 pieces of coloured glass and have been well described as a spiritual lighthouse.In fact the town centre is the first mid 20th century urban settlement in Europe to be included in the World Heritage List and, although not to everyone’s taste, by understanding the thoughts behind the design it can be better appreciated. After an excellent restaurant lunch the afternoon was spent at the Museum of Modern Art, which houses the largest collection of impressionist painting in France outside Paris. Our time there coincided with a special collection of paintings by Eugene Boudin on show to enjoy. There was even enough time to wander along the nearby seafront to view the boats in the harbour and enjoy the weather which our weekend was favoured before returning to Mont St. Aignan and our evening with our hosts. On the Sunday morning some French hosts took their guests down into Rouen, others walked around MSA and a few to the local church before all met for refreshments together to say a fond farewell and thanks for a wonderful stay. Having a few hours to spare we interrupted out return journey with a stop at the walled town of Montreuil-sur-Mer which, though not near the sea, overlooks the Canche marshes and has spectacular views. Visiting the Citadel we found an interesting display about its time during the 1st World War when it housed the communications centre of the British Army and was General Haig’s headquarters during the Battle of the Somme. After a restorative stop at a café it was back to the cars and on to Calais for our ferry home where all agreed to having spent a very enjoyable weekend with our French counterparts.                                                                 Picture Gallery of September visit to MSA

      Click Here to Visit PhotoBucket.com where you can view 210 photos taken by Stuart McGregor

June
2011 was Edenbridge and District Twinning Association’s turn to be hosts for the main visit of the year. It was decided to have the visit from Friday 10th June so our French friends could take advantage of Monday being a French bank holiday and add a visit to Rye to their itinerary. Their coach arrived late in the evening, leaving Mount St Aignan in the early evening and taking advantage of the tunnel, which saved them considerable time. The hosts met them and took their guests home for Friday night. On Saturday everyone was up early for the coach journey to Greenwich. Dropped at Greenwich Park the first thing many of the party went to see was the National Maritime Museum (NMM). Like many of our national museums the NMM is so comprehensive that it deserves more than one day to see half of it. However we were aware that we had other things to do later in the day. Many went from the NMM to the Queens House to see its art collection. As lunchtime approached people were assigned the role of collecting the mid day picnic from the coaches whilst others found spaces in Greenwich Park for the meal to come. There were a few light showers, but mostly bright skies, as we spread out our picnic rugs. Some nutriment and wine rejuvenated us for a quick walk up the hill to the Greenwich Observatory. Good views and a photo at the Meridian Line and off to the Old Naval College and Royal Naval Hospital before checking watches so we got to the river tour boat by 14:45hrs. We cruised along to Tower Bridge then Westminster pier to an amusing tour guide commentary. Then off to the London Eye pier where we had a chance to stroll around before our buses collected us for the return journey home. Heavy traffic and the Blackwall tunnel being closed caused us to detour via the Dartford Crossing. This was the first time many of our guests had seen the Queen Elizabeth Bridge. The English hosts entertained their guests Saturday evening and Sunday but took them to the Sunday evening gathering at Rickards Hall. Pig Ear were excellent entertainment and the catering was superb. Rested the French were up early on Monday to start their homeward journey via Rye. We had a few minutes to say our goodbyes and look forward to meeting this September at the mini visit in MSA or next year. Excellent visit, and good to see so many new children.                                                               Picture Gallery of June visit by MSA to Edenbridge

May
As part of the Edenbridge Festival 2011 the traditional pram race was resurrected. The Twinning Association decided to take part and entered an Adult Mixed team. The Pram was designed and largely constructed of old bicycle parts held together with plywood and bits of pine. The four man team was our Chairman and Secretary and two female Asterix lookalikes from MSA. Although overall the team came sixth of seven teams all enjoyed the day. If there were problems it stemmed from the fact that only one of our team was an experienced drinker, so pub stops added disproportionately to the overall time.                                                                            Picture Gallery of May Edenbridge Festival Pram Race
                                                                    More Pram Race Photos from Stuart McGregor

March
Drawing of the walkers by Romaric FrançoisOn Friday 18th March 2011, a small group of “Edenbridge Twinners” set off for the walking weekend with our friends in Mont St Aignan. A brief lunch stop in the town of Abbeville on the way down provided a well deserved “croque monsieur” for the children, plus a surprising find in one of the town churches – St Sépulcre which houses a fantastic collection of modern stained glass windows. These were designed by Alfred Manessier in the 1980’s and are set out to portray a spiritual journey, the colours being inspired by his love of the region “la Baie”.
Fortunately luck was with us weatherwise and Saturday dawned clear and bright. The walk this time took us through the beautiful Forest of Eawy and out into the neighbouring countryside, through a small village and back to the forest. Lunch was taken at a local establishment and in true French style could not have been bettered. After lunch a short drive took us to the restored site of a V1 Rocket Base, where we were given a tour and were able to view a reconstructed V1, poised for launch. It was interesting to learn that this particular site had been destroyed almost upon completion, before it could be of any danger to England. It was, however, still rather chilling to think of this “Doodle Bug” set for take off, in the direction of London.
An enjoyable Saturday evening was spent at the local town hall in Mont St Aignan where we took part in a Quiz evening. The rounds varied from “The History of Normandy”, to “Wine Tasting” and “Quotations”. We even learnt a few interesting facts about the Twinning of Mont St Aignan with Bhukina Faso in Africa.
We made our return on Sunday after a very hospitable “brunch” at one of the Twinners houses. No stopover on the way back, although some of us left the motorway after Boulogne and had a very pleasant drive in the sunshine along the coastal road through the seaside town of Wimereux, well worth a visit if you are passing that way, or in France on a day trip.   Picture Gallery of March Walking Weekend to MSA

Past Events 2010

September
The September mini visit by Mont St. Aignan to Edenbridge was blessed with clear skies, although there was a cold wind from the North. The Saturday outing was to Lullingstone and included the Roman Villa, the Castle with its World garden, the Hop Shop and afternoon tea at the Country Park. The 23 visitors arrived by car in 2 parties between 18:00hrs and 21:30hrs on the Friday evening and made their way to their hosts homes. After breakfast the twinners met at the Edenbridge Leisure Centre then made their way to Lullingstone. The first part of the day involved a visit to see the remains of the Roman Villa near Eynsford. The English Heritage facility gives a very good insight into Roman life over a period from about 82AD to early in the 5th century when the villa was destroyed by fire. The displays include many Roman artefacts and the remaining structures of the villa, its granary, temple-mausoleum and some fine mosaic floors. We then went on to Lullingstone Castle where we had a picnic on the lawns followed by a tour of the World Gardens and hot houses for exotic plants that require a warmer clime than our own. The group then walked to the Hop Shop at Castle Farm where we saw the orchards and lavender fields the Darent Valley is famous for. Just time for a walk back to Lullingstone Country Park for a cream tea. We made our way home and our French guests returned  with their hosts for the evening. Sunday we all met in Rickards Hall for refreshments before we said goodbye to our friends as they started their way home. A full and enjoyable weekend; many thanks to those that made it possible.
Picture Gallery of MSA Mini Visit in September to Edenbridge

June
After welcoming the French for the Walking weekend in April, the next major exchange took place in June when a party of 35 English, both new and regular participants, went by coach to Mont Saint Aignan. The weekend started early on the Friday morning when we headed off to catch the ferry at Dover. In the afternoon we met up with a number of our French hosts en route for an arranged tour of a Glass Museum at Blangy sur Bresle. Not only were we able to see how this local area had become a centre for glass making for many years and find out how it was done, we were also given a wonderful demonstration by a glass blowing expert who produced an example of the items now still available for purchase. After a short stop at a local supermarket to search for any favourite wines and other French produce, it was on to Mont St. Aignan to meet up with our hosts with whom we were to stay for the weekend. The weather stayed sunny and warm which was an added bonus when the Saturday found us visiting the Park of the Chateau de Cleres with its plants and birds and deer. After a picnic lunch it was on for a tour of a Museum dedicated to Firemen and Fire Engines, which had many of the group admiring and discussing engines whilst others admired costumes and photos of handsome firemen. The hospitality continued in the evening when we met for a meal together to continue chatting and getting to know one another speaking in our usual mix of the French and English language. After the Sunday morning spent with our individual hosts, we joined our coach for the safe journey back to Edenbridge arriving early evening. So ended another enjoyable trip to our Twin Town and friends there.                          Picture Gallery of EDTA June visit to MSA

May
The sunny and dry spring weather gave the association a fine opportunity to enjoy a social event on the UK.  A few of the members collaborated to stage a Garden Party. It was attended by a considerable number of old and new friends. Apart from the enjoyment of other members company the event raised funds, from a raffle plus objet d'art and plant stalls, for other events later in the year. Many thanks to everyone that loaned the marquee, erected the marquee, arranged the catering and contributed to the stalls. We look forward to using this format for fund raising in future years.               Picture Gallery of Garden Party

April
The Edenbridge and District Twinning Association hosted a Walking Weekend visit by a group of twinners from Mont St Aignan, our twin town in France.The party of 22 French visitors arrived in Edenbridge around 9.15 on the Friday. They were met in Station Approach by their host families and taken home for some light refreshment before retiring for an early night in preparation for the 5 mile walk the following day. What a splendid day it was! We set off from Haysden Country Park car park on a beautiful sunny morning with a crisp, light breeze. Walking through the park towards Tonbridge we passed through the tranquil and scenic country park, taking a short break at the Tonbridge Swimming Pool to admire the Miniature Steam Railway. Walking onwards we approached Tonbridge High Street alongside the River Medway, with Tonbridge Castle to our left. Crossing the bridge we continued on alongside the river towards Tudeley, passing some marvellous riverside scenery, apple and pear orchards, beautiful farmsteads and finally reached All Saints Church at around noon where we had an opportunity to admire the stunning stained glass windows by Marc Chagall. On a wonderful, sunny day such as we were enjoying, with the light shining through the windows, they were a spectacular sight and very much enjoyed by everyone. Then it was a lunch break at The Poacher’s in Tudeley where, after drinks at the bar, we were served with a delicious, freshly cooked and well presented lunch, dessert and tea or coffee. We all lingered over our lunch and there was plenty of animated talking in both French and English. Once refreshed and replete, we retraced our path back to Haysden Country Park car park, with a brief stop by some for ice-creams in Tonbridge and another, longer stop at the, now operational, Miniature Steam Railway, where one or two of the visitors enjoyed a ride on one of the tiny trains. Back home in the early evening the host families entertained their guests individually, one or two choosing to attend a local production of Agatha Christie’s ‘A Murder is Announced’ in the WI Hall, others enjoying a relaxing evening at home. On Sunday morning we all met again at Bridges in Edenbridge High Street for a send-off tea with cakes and sandwiches – then it was cheerio to the French visitors who left at 12.00.A thoroughly enjoyable weekend for everyone.                                                                                                        Picture Gallery of Walking Weekend

Past Events 2009

September
A cruise on the Saint Martin canal and a cathedral holding the remains of the Kings of France were some of the different views of Paris seen by a group from Edenbridge & District Twinning Association on their recent visit to their twin town of Mont St. Aignan in France. The last weekend in September saw a group setting off from Edenbridge early on the Friday in a number of cars and enjoying a smooth crossing of the Channel from Newhaven to Dieppe for the short onward journey towards Mont St. Aignan. Time enough for detours to Dieppe town and driving via country villages, made the more enjoyable by the warm and sunny weather, and on to our traditional stop at the local Carrefour before meeting up with our French hosts at their Town Hall. After a pleasant evening spent with our individual hosts, our English group met up again early on the Saturday morning, when all gathered together with a large group of French ‘twinners’ including our French hosts, to board a coach to take us to Paris. The first treat of the day was a guided tour, in one’s preferred language, of the cathedral of Saint Denis. This basilica stands on the site of a Gallo-Roman cemetery with the tomb of Saint Denis, a martyred Bishop of Paris. From the 3rd century it was a place of pilgrimage and most of the kings and queens of France were buried here from the 6th century helping it to become a very powerful Benedictine Abbey in the Middle Ages. A 12th century Abbott, Suger, rebuilt much of the structure using new architectural techniques, including a rose window, helping to turn the abbey into the early Gothic Art masterpiece seen today. It was back to the coach for a short trip to the Parc de la Villette, where we could enjoy our picnic lunch in the sunshine, before a short walk to the Canal St. Denis. There we joined a large barge for a cruise along one of the waterways which link to the Seine. The route was for the most part along the Canal Saint Martin and made very entertaining by passing through four double locks, two swing bridges and two tunnels, the last of which was over one kilometre long and featured a light show projected onto the roof and giving a potted history of the passing districts. On reaching our destination of Paris-Arsenal all agreed that this unusual and unexpected view of Paris was highly to be recommended. Our return route out of the city, alongside the river Seine, turned into a true sight-seeing trip as the good weather had filled the streets with people enjoying the day and the subsequent slow traffic gave us time to appreciate the Notre Dame cathedral, the Place de la Concorde, the Eiffel Tower and more. A grand day out! The Sunday morning found some visitors being entertained by their hosts while those on the English and French committees met together to plan the joint events for the 2010 season. Afterwards a farewell gathering saw the English party on their way, for an afternoon spent visiting local sights, before embarking at Dieppe for a comfortable crossing and evening return to Edenbridge. Thus ended another enjoyable exchange between these two twin towns, with the promise of more to come next year.                               Picture Gallery of September Mini Visit

June
Nine Edenbridge and District Twinning Association (EDTA) members attended a social event in the mountains of Alsace in June this year. Organised by our twin town Mont St Aignan, who are twinned with Edenbridge, Barsinghausen in Germany, Brzeg Dolny in Poland and Osica de Sus in Romania. The location was at altitude in the Vosges Mountains near Soultzeren, Alsace. Activities included a visit to Strasburg to tour the European Parliament building, discussions about the recent European elections and a quiz related to European legislature. There was also lots of opportunity for tours of sites of local interest, monuments and the beautiful villages that were only a short coach trip away. Alsace is also famous for its cheeses, ales and wines and our hosts had arranged visits to a farm, brewery and vineyard so we could see and sample the produce at first hand. Although we were feasted at the chalet complex where we stayed the twinners also enjoyed visits to restaurants were our hosts had arranged for us to enjoy speciality dishes of the region. One day was set aside for walking in the mountains which despite the warm weather still had snow on their peaks. At the end of a very pleasant five days spent together we said goodbye to new and old friends and resolved to repeats the event in two years time, probably with Baringhausen as the organising hosts.
                                              More details and Picture Gallery of the Alsace Event

May
The May visit by our French friends from the twinned town of Mount Saint Aignan was another pleasant experience for everyone; English hosts as well as the French visitors. The French coach arrived on Friday evening and the visitors went home with their hosts to enjoy an evening together. Early Saturday we set off for Tenterden using the scenic route. We arrived at the Kent and East Sussex Railway Tenterden Town station with no time to spare and everyone jumped into the coaches being pulled by (0-6-0) steam engine “Holman F. Stephens”. After stops at Rolvenden, Wittersham Rd. and Northiam we arrived at Bodiam station. After a short walk we arrived at the National Trust property of Bodiam Castle. We had a 2 hour wander around the castle and grounds and had a break for a picnic. We returned to Tenterden using the Kent and East Sussex Railway. The weather was sunny so we took advantage and walked the town, enjoying coffee and ice creams. Back onto the coach we returned to Edenbridge. The Saturday evening was again spent at family homes. Sunday morning the party assembled in Edenbridge as the Eden Valley Museum had a special opening so the visitors could see the exhibition celebrating the 35 years of twinning. About midday we wished our guests farewell and a Bon Voyage.                                                                            Picture Gallery of the French May Visit

April
The weekend started early - we left Edenbridge at 4 30am to catch the boat leaving Dover at 7.00am for the crossing to Boulogne. We had the whole day to spend as we wished and decided to visit Montreuil-sur-Mer, a walled town with a history. The walk around the battlements was invigorating but the sea had long ago retreated, not that we could see the views due to sea mist. There were some interesting buildings especially the original entry into the town which was on a steep slope so you could understand why a new road was built. Lunch was in a small café with interesting food, Flemish in origin, but good. We could not visit France without a stop at the Supermarket and then on to the Town Hall to meet up with our hosts. Saturday dawned, the weather was grey but not raining, and we set out for Bosrobert a small hamlet to the south of Rouen where the morning circular walk was to be. The country was full of primroses and trees just starting to come into leaf. The views were spectacular and the terrain very up and down especially the last climb.. We had time during the walk to stop at the Abbaye du Bec-Hellouin and admire the Faeance pottery made by the monks before returning to the cars and driving to Harcourt where we had a three course excellent lunch with wine before either continuing with the walk or visiting the Chateau. We arrived back at Rouen at 6.l5pm and left at 6.45pm to head towards Mont St Aignan for a Quiz (in French). There is a first time for everything!
Sunday morning we slept in!!!        Picture Gallery of the E&DTA April Walking Weekend in MSA

 

Past Events 2008

November
It was a whirlwind tour for the 21 visitors from our Twin Town, Mont Saint Aignan in France!
Arriving on the Friday evening, to be welcomed by their host families from the Edenbridge area, there followed an early start on the Saturday morning.This was to enable the group, along with most of their English hosts, to catch the 9 o’clock train to London Bridge from where they continued on to the City of London to join the crowds waiting to watch the Lord Mayor’s Show Parade. Dispersing into mini groups, each party set off to find the best viewing spot of the route.The weather turned wet and windy but in contagious true British spirit, we watched the bands and floats pass by, knowing that the participants had to endure the elements for an even longer time than ourselves before their parading ended.Later a number of groups chose to view other sights of London including the Museum of London where the history of the City is well explained with displays and artefacts, especially concerning the Great Fire of London in 1666.Then it was a return home to dry off before making our ways back to Edenbridge to see another Parade, this time of a more local variety. Our French visitors were very appreciative of the efforts and novelty of the many floats, including that of Hever School, which made such an excellent display for the Bonfire Parade this year.It was great to see the involvement of so many youngsters of varying ages who joined in both parades with such enjoyment and determination!Fireworks followed along with a return of the wind and rain but all reported spending a hectic but enjoyable day full of various traditional spectacles.After a more leisurely Sunday morning, French and English joined together for a short lunch at Bridges before our visitors set off in their cars on their return journey.Another successful meeting up of friends old and new!                                                   Picture Gallery of the November MSA Mini Visit

July
In the middle of July the weather held fair again when, by kind invitation of our friends in Mont Saint Aignan, a smaller group from the Edenbridge area took the opportunity to see the Armada of Tall Ships being held in adjacent Rouen. On the outward journey we had time to stop at ‘Les Jardins des Valloires’ to enjoy the wonderful shrubberies, trees and formal flower beds to be found there and had been blessed with fine weather as we were for the visit to the ships the day after. Making their way in cars the English stayed two nights with host families spending one full day by the quayside of the river Seine where a flotilla of magnificent ships were berthed. The event comes to Rouen every four years and is visited by over a million people from both France and all over the world and is an opportunity to not only view the vessels from the dockside but to also climb aboard and marvel at the quantity of ropes and wood that is on display. The ships come from many countries including Russia, Mexico, Uruguay, Holland and Italy and, of course, France. The British were represented by Tenacious, the one specially adapted for disabled sailors, and Grand Turk, built for the television series Hornblower. Although a tiring day, most of the ‘twinners’ took the opportunity to came back for the outdoor concert performed by the Rouen Symphony Orchestra who played a selection of pieces many topically pertaining to the sea and including from the film ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’! The evening ended with a spectacular firework display, which, as Mont Saint Aignan is sited on the escarpment overlooking Rouen, many people watched from a well known viewing spot. We have since realised how lucky we were when we made our farewells to our French hosts under the shelter of umbrellas and have been told that the rain apparently continued there till the end of the week!
     Picture Gallery of EDTA's visit to the Rouen Armada

June
Edenbridge and District Twinning Association (EDTA) visit to Mount Saint Aignan (MSA) was another great success. Not only did we have a number of our regulars but being school holidays we had a number of children with their parents and grandparents. The start from Edenbridge was early so that we could stop at Ferme Des Fontaines (Fountain Farm) near Neufchâtel-en-Bray, Seine-Maritime, Upper-Normandy which specialised in cheeses of Neufchatel. The farmer’s wife gave us an excellent talk regarding the milk yield cycle with calf birth and the making of Neufchatel cheese. At the conclusion we were taken on a tour of the fromagerie and many took the opportunity to purchase the fresh white cheese. Met by some of our hosts we completed our journey to MSA by 19:00hrs and dispersed to our host homes and enjoyed the usual fine hospitality. Up early on Saturday we made our way by coach to Bayeux for a day trip. First stop was the Musée Mémorial de la Bataille de Normandie (Battlefield of Normandy Museum). This comprehensive collection of WW2 vehicles and memorabilia superbly commemorate the bravery and horror of this Normandy Invasion in 1944 and the subsequent battles that ensued as the allies tried to break free from the Channel coast towards central France. At lunch time we made our way to the centre of Bayeux for a picnic lunch. In the afternoon we met together at the Musée de la Tapisserie de Bayeux which houses the Bayeux Tapestry. The embroidery, 70 metres long, made in the 11th century celebrates the conquest of England by William, Duke of Normandy. Afterwards we strolled around the beautiful and picturesque centre of the town. The River Aure flows through Bayeux and affords scenic views from a number of locations. We returned by coach to MSA and spent the evening with our hosts. On Sunday we had free time walking with our hosts and met at the MSA scout hut for Brunch. We departed for England at about midday and were in Edenbridge a little after 7pm. Again a very successful experience for everyone that took part.                                 Picture Gallery of EDTA's visit to MSA

April
To celebrate the 10th anniversary of weekend walking events organised by the Edenbridge and District Twinning Association (EDTA) and the Mount Saint Aignan (MSA) Twinning Association a special walk was organised from MSA to Edenbridge. Four members of EDTA made their way to Dieppe and were collected and taken to MSA to begin  the 100 miles walk to Edenbridge on Saturday 5th April. Four members of the MSA twinning made up the core walking team. Following the “Chasse-Marée”  the group took 3 days to reach Dieppe . From Newhaven the group followed the Vanguard Way along the coast, over the South Downs and north through the Weald to Edenbridge. The English stages took 3½ days. A full account of the walk is available for download in PDF format (22K) "The Tale of Two Ways". Other walkers arrived from France by car on Friday 15th April to join the core walkers and other EDTA members for a return walk from Hever to Penshurst on Saturday. Although there were heavy showers in general terms we were lucky with the weather. On the Saturday evening our French visitors were taken to a music recital  by Angela Purll and Timothy Kwan at Crockham Hill organised by The Bridges. On the Sunday morning we wished our friends Au revoir after another very successful exchange visit.
      Picture Gallery of the MSA to Edenbridge Walk

Account of the weekend walk and some photos in PDF format (1.2MB)

Past Events 2007

September
This was the joint visit with the Edenbridge and District Historical Society to Rouen. The focus of the visit was a guided tour of Rouen. A few cars from Edenbridge and surrounding areas made the journey to Mount Saint Aignan during Friday, arriving in the early evening. After a small welcome party in the garden of  the Pecastaing's we were all allocated to hosts and we were entertained during the evening  to the usual excellent standard. The tour required an early start on the Saturday, meeting at the restored "Le Gros Horloge" (the big clock). This 14th Century astronomical clock symbolises the wealth and power of Rouen established on the back of the wool industry. Newly reopened after a multi million restoration we spent some time individually exploring the huge structure that houses Le Gros Horloge with headsets which provided extensive information in English about the clock and Rouen in general. After this tour we reassembled in the "Place de la Cathedrale" where we met our English speaking guide. For the next 3 hours we followed her around Rouen. We walked  up and down the centre of Rouen and leant much about war, disease and pestilence. This included the "Palais de Justice", the market area,  narrow streets, interesting architecture and the place where Joan of Arc was burnt plus a guided tour of the Eglise Sainte Jeanne d'Arc. The last stop was the Notre Dame Cathedral, which  is where the heart of Richard the Lionheart is laid and was the highest building in the world (151m) until 1880. We were all glad to see our lunchtime restaurant and greatly rejuvenated by the fine fare and wine. We dispersed to our hosts homes where other trips and entertainment were arranged. In the evening we were taken back to Notre Dame Cathedral for the world famous light show. Based upon the many paintings of Notre Dame made by Claude Monet the laser light is the paint and the towering bleached wall of the Cathedral is the canvas. We were a weary troupe when we made our way to bed that night. On Sunday morning we were taken to the Mont Saiint Aignan artisans fair and were entertained to dance, music and pantomime. Following an out door picnic we said our goodbyes and made our way home with many fond memories.                            Picture Gallery

June
Following a less than optimistic weather forecast the weekend turned out very pleasant and as, always, very enjoyable.  The Mont Saint Aignan (MSA) coach had some difficulty with the tunnel crossing so arrived a little later than expected on the Friday evening. The hosts collected their guests and ensured they were well rested for the free-form arrangements of the Saturday. Each host entertained their guests by arranging or beyond walks or visits to places of interest in the Edenbridge area during the day then brought them to the evening Barn Dance at the W.I. Hall in Edenbridge. Tired, but much entertained by "Footloose" and far too well fed by "Care Catering", the weary made their way home later than they were used to. An early start on the Sunday took everyone to the Bentley Wildfowl and Motor Museum near Lewes. Bentley is more expansive than you think and by the time we had seen the Motor Museum, the House, the Gardens and scale railway many did not get a chance to see the Wildfowl, as the walk is a minimum of 1 hour. However we did have time for a splendid picnic which included traditional English brewed beverages. With some sadness we had to say goodbye to our French friends in  mid afternoon as their coach had to make its way along the coast to Folkestone for their return home.                                                                                                       Picture Gallery

March
Edenbridge visited Mont Saint Aignan (MSA) for the annual walk and enjoyed a splendid weekend. The walk itself was through the French National Park - Forêt de Roumare with panoramic views overlooking the  beautiful Seine Valley. The morning walk took place in less than sunshine but our spirits were not dampened as we walked through woodlands and picturesque villages such as Montigny enjoying various conversations with our hosts. We concluded at St Martin De Boscherville and enjoyed a very pleasant meal in the village restaurant La Roumardiere.  Refreshed with food, and a little wine, we restarted the walk. After a short time we came upon the Abbaye de St Georges and had an opportunity  to look inside the significant 12th century Benedictine Abbey Church. The showers persisted for much of the afternoon but inside our waterproofs we all strolled along gaily through the idyllic Normandy countryside.. When back at the cars we were taken to a social gathering for more refreshments. The evening was pleasantly spent with our individual hosts. On Sunday we had choices. Some visitors went to the big Sunday market in Rouen, some took another walk but most went to the Rouen historical quayside  to see around the famous three-masted French barque Belem, whose previous owners included the Duke of Westminster, Sir Arthur Ernest Guinness and a venetian Count Vittorio Cini, on a 3 week visit to Rouen. We also had a excellent view of the nearly finished massive lifting bridge which carries the new motorway across the River Seine. After a midday meal we made our fond farewells and set off for home with many pleasant memories.                    Picture Gallery

 

Past Events 2006

September
The September visit to Edenbridge by twinning members from Mont Saint Aignan (MSA) was so over subscribed that one or two families had to be disappointed, as we could not host them. However those that did make the journey were rewarded by excellent weather, welcoming companionship and a superb day at the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew. The MSA party arrived Friday evening, later than expected due to a late start and traffic problems on the Kent motorways. There was time for little more than welcomes and the weary travellers made their way off to bed. Saturday morning was an early start as two coaches made their way around the M25 up the M3 to Kew Gardens in Richmond. Arriving about 10:00 we had a full six hours to explore the 300 acres of the Royal Botanic Gardens. Apart from the obvious vast collection of specimen flora and fauna from all over the world housed in the famous glasshouses, or planted in the extensive parklands, Kew is a leading centre of conservation and research involving over 275 Scientists and Researchers and 110 Horticulturists. In 2003 Kew was made a World Heritage Site. Upon our return we discovered that one of the coaches would not start but that was repaired within an hour and all made it safely back to Edenbridge for the individual evening family entertainments. Sunday was for ad-hoc activities and our guests wished us a fond farewell on Sunday afternoon.                                                                                      Picture Gallery

March
Edenbridge was hosting this years twinning walk. 15 guests arrived in 3 cars about 21:30hrs on Friday 31st March after a 4½ hour drive from Mont Saint Aignan. After a very wet night we awoke with some concern for the state of the paths but made an early start to Chartwell for our morning walk. The walk planned by Geoff and Ian of the Edenbridge Strollers was a circular route from Chartwell to Westerham and back. After ploughing along water logged footpaths for a couple of hours we had to clean up a bit before going into the Mulberry Room at Chartwell for lunch. In the afternoon the party divided and those that wanted to go around Chartwell House did so but the hardy set out for an afternoon walk through the surrounding woodlands including the National Trust Chartwell, Chartwell Farm and Mariner Hill. The party re-united at about 17:00hrs and in groups went to enjoy the hospitality of the Hosting families. After various activities on Sunday morning and Sunday Lunch the French guests set off on their return journey at about 13:00hrs.               Picture Gallery

May
Another successful visit to Mont St Aignan by the Edenbridge & District Twinning Association. Most members drove to Mont St Aignan during Friday 26th and returned on the Bank Holiday Monday. However some members cycled. As usual there was a welcoming of wine and refreshments then we were distributed to hosting families. On Saturday there was a range of activities. Most members went to Claude Monet's Gardens at Giverny, others saw the vast collection of Roman items at the Musée de Antiquites  in Rouen. On the Sunday members and their hosts took a coach to Amiens. We took a canal boat trip around the floating gardens of Des Hortillonnages, had a guided tour around Amiens Cathedral  and went to the Cimetière de la Madeleine to see where Jules Verne is buried. The day was punctuated by a superb meal at "La Maison du Petit Bedon"(translates to House of the Little Pot Bellies). On Monday farewells were said, vehicles were loaded at the local superrnarché  and members made their various ways home.        Picture Gallery             Cyclist Images

Past Events 2005

 March
A group of 12 walkers from Edenbridge, together with their French hosts, and other members of the French Twinning Association went for a long walk in the Forét de Lyon near Rouen. The Edenbridge walkers made their way by car to Mont Saint Aignan in small groups during Friday. We stayed overnight with our hosts and they drove us to Lyons La Forêt where we kitted up and set off on our morning walk through the forest and surrounding villages. Although the weather was a little overcast the spirits were high and the exercise stimulated the appetite. We returned to Lyons La Forêt for an excellent lunch. In the afternoon we drove to a forest clearing and took an extensive forest walk which passed the Mortemer Abbey and the Sainte Catherine Fonteyn. An extremely pleasant day. It concluded by being entertained that evening by our hosts. We drove home during Sunday. Great fun and highly recommend for next year.                                                                                                                                                        Picture Gallery
May
We were visited by 35 people from Mont Saint Aignan who were hosted by local Edenbridge families. The visit included an excursion to the Weald and Downland Museum at Singleton and to Chichester Cathedral. On Saturday morning we made the journey to Chichester, chosen deliberately because of the historic links between the cathedrals at Chichester and Chartres, which although in Normandy, is not in fact the diocesan cathedral for Mont Saint Aignan. That is the wonderful cathedral at Rouen. We also planned a visit to the Weald and Downland Museum at Singleton. Both were much enjoyed – many of our French friends visited the cathedral while others exercised their shopaholic tendencies and made a beeline for Chichester’s shops, especially Marks & Spencer! It can be difficult to keep some of them away from the shops! The visit to the Museum was a great success – after a picnic lunch by the lake we looked at the many ancient and historic buildings rescued from sites in Kent and Sussex and re-erected at Singleton in beautiful natural rural surroundings.
  Picture Gallery

July
Ten members of the Mont Saint Aignan Bridge Club visited Penshurst for a social bridge match.                                                                                                
 

 

 

September
A visit by members of the Association to Mont Saint Aignan. During our visit to France in September we were treated to a short journey on a restored and historic steam train between St Valery sur Somme (which incidentally was the embarkation point for William the Conqueror in 1066) and Le Crotoy. This was a fascinating journey across the mudflats which form the marshy estuary of the Somme. From there we went to the enormous wildlife sanctuary at Marquenterre which houses an amazing and diverse collection of seabirds and waterfowl attracted by the superb estuarine feeding conditions.
Picture Gallery

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