Message from the Chairman
Have we got news for you!
Everyone has been working very hard to prepare for the first group visit of our new French friends to the Elham Valley in April. An interesting programme is being prepared which will allow time for group activities as well as relaxation with hosts and families. You will see full details of this elsewhere in Le Jumelage and I wish to rally all our members and get full support for this exciting new venture. [Programme in detail is here - Ed]
We are expecting a maximum of 35 people of different ages, including some children, and need hosts who will be happy to collect their guests from Ashford International station on the Friday evening, attend the welcoming reception at Etchinghill Golf Club, give them a bed on Friday and Saturday and, of course, breakfasts.
You can then either join whichever excursion your guests choose on Saturday or, at least, drive them to the start and pick them up at the end, and attend the Saturday evening dinner and barn dance at Elham Village Hall.
Sunday morning will be free for you to do what you wish with your guests; perhaps
join with other families for a walk in the valley, on the sea front or at Samphire Hoe,
visit the ancient churches.....the choice is yours. Some lunch should be provided either at home or in a pub before their departure on Sunday afternoon. But remember -
you need not be alone if the idea is daunting. Just team up with neighbours and together you will hopefully have enough French and gestures to communicate.
Many people in the area have been taking lessons with an English resident in preparation for this visit and they will, no doubt, wish to practise their new skills.
Even if you cannot be hosts, we hope you will join the various activities, meet our new friends and give them a warm welcome.
This new friendship is not yet an official twinning, such things take time; but it is through visits such as this that we can find out, both here and in France, whether this partnership will be the right one for us in the long term. So, come and see what you think.
If you want to discover more about the Communauté and the neighbouring villages, we have a very nice PowerPoint presentation that has been prepared by Guy Monnet, the chairman of the French Association, which you can borrow to watch at home. It is available in French and in English, just contact any of the village representatives.
And, finally, EVTA has moved into the 21st Century and now has its own website at www evta org.uk. This was created by our very able committee member, Robin Blount, who obviously has many hidden talents. We are extremely grateful to him for his work on this and his splendid achievement. Do go and have a look at it and pass on the address to all your friends.
We hope to see many of you during our special weekend in April.
Members' Lunch: Gerald Crease recalls a splendid event
It was on Saturday, 21st January, one of the sunniest days that we have had so far this year, that fifty of us met for our annual members' lunch, this time at The Black Robin in Kingston.
Our mood matched the weather as we mingled in the bar for our pre-lunch drinks and it was fortunate that we did not all arrive at the same time as the bar was somewhat crowded. However, we all got our drinks and made our way through to the very attractive dining room where, shortly after one o'clock, we were called to be seated. The food was excellent. Personally, I had the pigeon starter, nicely under-done (I think the bird just flew over the stove!), followed by the chicken and then pannacotta. It was all very tasty and with plenty of good vegetables. There was also high praise for the mackerel pâté, the soup and, particularly, the lamb shanks. And all the desserts disappeared without trace.
We were a noisy dining room, always a good sign of people enjoying themselves. We were pleased to welcome Raymonde and Jacob Vandjour and Jean-Claude Delattre who have all been good friends over the years.
When the meal had finished, there were a few speeches: from our President, Andrée Sladden, who thanked members for their continued support, from our Vice-Chairman, Mike Savage, who relayed a short message from the Chairman who could not be with us, from Jean-Claude, who was uncharacteristically brief and ably translated by Alan Forrest, and lastly from Mark Jenner who reminded us, among other things, to be ready to host our new friends from the Beaujolais when they will arrive in April for their first full visit.
This was indeed a splendid event for which we must thank Andrée Sladden who organised it.
Un ecrivain furieux dit à un critique littéraire:
"Vous osez critiquer un roman mais vous n'avez jamais écrit des romans vous-même!!"
"Je n'ai jamais pondu d'ceufs mais je suis sûr d'être plus qualifié qu'une poule pour critiquer une omelette!" répond le critique.
Rouen avec des amis
(Caitriana wrote this article for us soon after visiting Rouen on an excursion organised by Jean-Claude and "Les Amis du Kent". Unfortunately, the developments following the introduction of the Beaujolais progressed at such a rate that this item was suspended so that members could be informed about the Communauté de Communes Beaujolais Nizerand Morgon and the people who live and work there. We are pleased to be able at last to publish Caitriana's most interesting report.)
On Saturday, 7th May, 2005, four EVTA members went to Rouen to meet with les Amis du Kent. We met near St. Joan of Arc's Church which is a modern structure and incorporates renaissance stained glass windows from St. Vincent's church originally on this site. Unfortunately, the old church was destroyed in 1944 but the stained glass had been removed for the duration of the war. The modern church is in La Place du Vieux-Marché where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake and it evokes the sea as its exterior is in the shape of a boat.
We went on a comprehensive tour of the city with a very knowledgeable guide who was, in fact, a history teacher. Although rain fell steadily as we walked through the streets, we could not but help absorb the medieval atmosphere.
We saw le Gros-Horloge which is flanked by its Gothic Belfry and forms an arch in the street through which one can see the cathedral. This cathedral, which has the tallest spire in France, is light and airy inside and there is a stained glass window from the English dedicated to the memory of Joan of Arc.
Many streets have rows of medieval houses and there are some very narrow alleys where buildings almost meet across the way. We saw a 14th century building which was used to house plague victims with an enclosed courtyard where bodies were disposed of by burning.
Around midday we stopped for a light bite at Flunch and then continued our tour. We saw a street with an open stream where cloth dyers washed their material and three-storey houses with the top level open to the air. The rooms under the roof, being sheltered places with a good circulation of air, were used to dry the cloth. Finally, we visited the birth place of Corneille, a famous French playwright, and discovered it had the same features as the hotel where we were staying, both dating from the 16th century.
We thanked our French friends for such an interesting day and went back to our respective hotels for a rest. The sun came out at the end of the day and we managed to see the city in sunlight.
In the evening, we dined in the oldest restaurant in France, dating from 1345, called "La Couronne" in La Place du Vieux-Marché opposite the Joan of Arc Church. The menu was excellent and Antonia, Gerald and I enjoyed the lightest and tastiest dessert called "Soufflé Normande".
On the Sunday morning we went to a market in la Place Saint-Marc and spent an hour savouring the sights and scents of the local produce. The sun was shining again and we were able to see how pretty the city of Rouen really is.
About midday we set off for England and arrived back in Kent at approximately 3pm. Many thanks are due to Jean-Claude for arranging this truly memorable excursion.
Memberships will be due for renewal on 1st March 2006. During this coming year we shall be very involved in entertaining a fairly large party from the Beaujolais. Following the exploratory excursions both ways last year, there is an enthusiasm to investigate further the possibility of a twinning arrangement. We must budget for an attractive programme that is presently being drawn up by the committee.
Subscriptions have remained fairly static for a number of years but now we must accept a modest increase to £7 per person per annum. However, we can still offer a discount for early payment to £6 if received by the membership secretary before the end of April. There is a renewal form here which can be printed off, and sent with your cheque to the Membership Secretary.).
Annual General Meeting
The thirteenth Annual General Meeting of the Elham Valley Twinning Association will be held on Thursday, 4th. May, 2006, at St. Mary's Hall, Elham, 7.00 for 7.30pm. This is a most interesting period in the history of EVTA and it is essential that members be kept informed of the liaison with the Communauté and surrounding villages which has developed rapidly since our introduction less than 12 months ago. As the Chairman has emphasised, there is no twinning arrangement yet and the contacts are still in the exploratory stage. The AGM will provide the ideal forum for members to raise any queries they may have and for discussions on important issues.
In addition, our Treasurer, Tony Walder, is resigning and a replacement must be appointed. Tony has kept the books and accounts in extremely good order and they will be easy to take over. It is customary for the Treasurer to be a member of the Management Committee but it would not necessarily be too onerous. Please consider if you could fill this vital post.
Finally, as most members know, it is also a social occasion and an ideal opportunity for a chinwag over a glass of wine and a peanut.
As you have heard from the Chairman, accommodation will be required for singles, couples and, possibly, for parents with their children. In order to ensure our records are up to date, would you please communicate to the Accommodation Secretary if you will be able to entertain any number at all of French guests. The membership renewal form attached provides the ideal vehicle for indicating what you can offer. And many thanks for your help.
Acknowledgements: Grateful thanks are due to Gerald Crease, Anne Leva, Mike Savage, Andrée Sladden and Caitriana Ritchie for their contributions to this issue.