Twinning Exchange to Liffré May 2013

Fair stood the wind for France (well there was certainly a ‘fair’ amount of it blowing in that direction!), as our party of twenty four, braved the unseasonably cold and blustery showers to board the coach at Ashbrook for the biennial Twinning Association exchange visit to Liffré. It wasn’t long before we found ourselves joining the M25 where (quelle surprise!), we promptly ground to a halt in the late afternoon heavy traffic around Heathrow! Oh well, time for the iPod I suppose. Now what shall it be, ‘Road to Nowhere’ by the band ‘Talking Heads’ or Chris Rea’s ‘Road to Hell?’

Managing to extricate ourselves from the congestion by escaping down the remarkably free-flowing M3, we were soon speeding past Hampshire heathland en route for Portsmouth and the waiting ferry. It has to be said at this point that if you ever get the opportunity to sample a Brittany Ferries restaurant buffet – do! You will not be disappointed. Friday morning saw us docking at the historic town of St Malo and after an hours drive, we duly arrived at our twin town of Liffré where the ‘entente’ was warmly reaffirmed with plenty of ‘cordiale!’

No time for a lie-in on Saturday however, as we gathered sleepily in the early morning sunshine for a coach trip to the Guérande peninsula in the département Loire-Atlantique. There in the village of Saillé we observed the age-old method of producing sea salt from the marshes and after lunch, enjoyed a guided tour of the medieval town of Guérande with its impressive, ramparts and fortified gates. Well worth a visit!

Sunday also dawned warm and sunny and the morning was a time for relaxing with our hosts, which in the writer’s case consisted of a walk around Liffrés Sunday street market to buy some locally supplied French cheeses (good thing we remembered the freezer blocks!). The afternoon saw several of the group meeting up at the Gardens of Brocéliande, a fascinating place conceived with the aim of creating training opportunities and employment for people with disabilities. Located a short distance from Rennes, the gardens have an appeal for all age groups and are home to an important collection of irises and lilacs.

The final social event of the trip was an evening of traditional ‘Gallo’ music and dance typical of eastern Brittany (as opposed to the Celtic ‘Breton’ west), organized by the twinning committee of the neighbouring village of La Bouëxière, where we mingled with their twinning counterparts from Wingrave!

Boarding the coach for home on Monday morning, yes there was sadness at having to part from our kind and generous hosts, but this was eclipsed by the warm feeling of friendship which seems to be further enhanced with each exchange. After stopping off for lunch in Caen, we watched the coast of France recede into the distance, from the sun deck of Brittany Ferries MV Normandie, glass in hand reflecting on what a superbly enjoyable trip it had been.

Next year it is the turn of our French friends to visit us, so the Wendover committee will shortly start planning the programme. If this has whetted your appetite and you would like to know more about Twinning or could offer accommodation, please get in touch with one of the following committee members: we’d love to hear from you. Barbara 01296 624708, Glynis 01296 625565, Mike 01296 622778

For more information about WendoverTwinning Association, click here

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