titlepage Le Jumelage Nouveau
In this issue
  • Editorial
  • Chairman's message
  • Humour
  • Spring Walk
  • Forthcoming Events
  • Bienvenue Chez les Ch'tis
  • BNM visit
  • Chatham Dockyard
  • Captions wanted
  • Editorial

    Predictably this issue contains articles and pictures covering the visit by our friends from BNM in June. There are some nice articles and photographs supplied by members and I would take this opportunity to say a big "Thank you" to them. It is always good to receive input from EVTA members for this publication.

    As stated in your July update, we really do need your support for the forthcoming events. Apart from the fact that it is always great fun to get together, we also need to replenish our funds following the visit by BNM, so pop the dates into your diaries and come along whenever you can. You will not be sorry!


    Chairman's Message

    First, a big Merci Beaucoup! to everyone who helped to make the June weekend with our French visitors such a success, particularly all the hosts who so warmly welcomed their guests into their homes and the present and former committee members who put all the detailed arrangements in place so effectively. From the feedback received to date our French twins thoroughly enjoyed themselves and our mutual friendships were further strengthened.

    So now we can look forward to our return visit to Beaujolais in June next year when it would be great if we could muster a party of comparable size. I know they were somewhat disappointed last year when our party barely reached double figures and they had put so much effort into the event. With this in mind, I am keen that we should recruit many new members in the coming year and the best way this can be done is for us all to be EVTA ambassadors and encourage some of our local friends to join.

    Why not invite one or two of them to our next event, the Plonk and Petanque afternoon at the Duke of Cumberland, Barham, on 28th August? I'm sure this will be a fun event and an excellent taster of our social activities. Then before our traditional Christmas dinner there's also a Treasure Hunt in October and a Wine & Wisdom evening with a distinctly French flavour in November to look forward to as well. I look forward to seeing you all at these events!


    Geoff Macdonald

    three jokes

    Spring Walk

    A jolly gathering of regular walkers met up with the twinning party outside the Red Lion in Bridge on 8th May. picture of spring walk groupThe twinners had enjoyed an excellent lunch in the pub and tried their French on the Breton chef, but substantial lunches didn't slow them down as we headed out across the fields of Bifrons Park towards Patrixbourne with its architectural gems. The grand mansion which once stood at Bifrons has disappeared but one can still see the avenues of limes and wellingtonias which lead to the house and a pretty ornate bridge indicates that this was a fine estate.

    Past the lovely Norman church at Patrixbourne we followed the footpath by the side of the Nailbourne until we reached the old Archbishop's Palace at Bekesbourne. We crossed the ford into the Bishop's field and doubled back to Patrixbourne, then crossed the farmland on the outskirts of Bridge.

    It was not an arduous walk but very convivial with lots to see and plenty to talk about in perfect Spring sunshine.

    Andree Sladden


    Forthcoming Events

    Sunday 9th OctoberTreasure Hunt2pm at Elham cemetery, £5 per head, not per car
    Saturday 12th NovemberWine & WisdomKingston Barn, 7 for 7·30
    tables of eight, £5 per head
    Saturday 17th DecemberChristmas LunchRed Lion Inn, Bridge
    12·30 for 1pm. Cost tba
    Friday 10th FebruaryFilm Showdetails to follow


    "Bienvenue Chez les Ch'tis"

    Our mini exploration of the north of France was inspired by the film show we saw last year at the Forrest's….."Welcome to the Sticks" (ie. rural northern France!)…..we'd laughed so much at the film we decided to go and see for ourselves just how does it measure up to the sunny south.French chateau We'd stuck a pin in a map somewhere close to the Château of Pierrefonds (right) which we'd promised ourselves for years that we would visit one day. The pin landed on the town of Soissons, well positioned for a number of interesting places to visit. Soissons was the old capital of Clovis, King of the Francs, who, the legend says, never forgave one of his warriors for breaking the treasured vase of Soissons, and waited years to exact retribution and break the warrior's head.

    St Jean de VignesWe'd chosen a new hotel opposite the ancient abbey of St. Jean des Vignes (left), the Best Western, Hotel des Francs. Our large terrace looked out over the ruined abbey, founded in the 11th Century, and it was the perfect spot to relax after a hard day's sightseeing. The weather was wonderful and as each day dawned perfectly hot and sunny we set out to explore.

    First was the immense Château of Pierrefonds which dominates the charming village below and the lake spread beneath it - the ideal spot for a picnic. Napoleon II asked Viollet le Duc to renovate the ruin of a 14th Century Castle, originally constructed by Louis d'Orléans. Now its medieval reconstruction is much used as a film location - in fact an episode of "Merlin" was being filmed while we were there, which helped to create an historic atmosphere.

    The Château de Compiègne was a surprising contrast. château of CompiègneThe imposing and very formal summer palace, set in beautiful gardens, was the seat of Napoléon III and his Empress Eugénie and the town itself was where Joan of Arc was captured by the Burgundians in 1430. One can tour the apartments and be impressed by the sumptuous (and slightly gaudy) bedrooms of Napoléon I and Marie-Louise.

    Not far away is the Clarière de l'Armistice, and a small replica railway carriage marks the spot where the armistice of WW1 was signed on 11th November 1918, and which was used again by Hitler as a humiliating venue for the signing of the French surrender on 22nd June 1940. Soissons turned out to be a town rich in opticians (I lost count of how many) but short on nice restaurants. Most seemed to be taking an extended winter holiday (this was May!) and, peering hungrily through windows, we could see the Christmas decorations were still in situ! Most evenings we ended up eating in the hotel, which seemed unadventurous to us, but the food was excellent, the staff were charming and we did not have far to toddle up to bed. The ancient fortifications of Soissons were destroyed long ago, but huge towers and ramparts still surround Courcy-le-Château-Auffrique on the D1 to the north.walls of Courcy They were built in the 13th century, when this little town was one of France's great defensive sites, for Enguerrand III, Sire de Courcy. Today one can walk round them (sadly the weather had changed by the time we got there and we had to do it in the rain), through the medieval city gates, past the old castle keep - blown up by the retreating Germans in 1917 - to look over the medieval medicinal gardens and believe that the world beyond has not much changed.

    This area is called the Thiérache, a sleepy region of undulating rolling hills, the remains of ancient forests criss-crossed with cycle paths and walking routes, wooded river valleys and memorable churches. So many towns we didn't manage to see but we will definitely be back, but we did stop off for lunch in Laon (in the rain) and strolled the narrow streets with their rows of pleasant 18th century houses and looked out from their ramparts with spectacular views across the plain. The Cathedral of Notre Dame here is wonderfully gothic, begun in 1155, and through the rainy mist we were able to discern the medieval carvings of the oxen who had hauled up the building stone from the quarry below. San-Quentin, Guise, Vervins are all awaiting our return trip and I for one cannot wait to get back to this lovely region just a stone's throw from the Channel Tunnel.


    The Beaujolais-Nizerand-Morgon visit

    It would seem that the French enjoyed their stay, and their company was enjoyed by their hosts.
    BNM groupWe have feedback from two hosts:

    1. French visitors Madeleine Morel and Geneviève Ballon with Sue Winter.
      "Madelee (Maddy) had visited before and is remembered for falling into the Wheelers' pond! Geneviève had visited England once before, as a young girl. Both were delightful and were extremely appreciative of all I did.

      We had some free time on Saturday afternoon and they wanted to see "La Manche", so we visited Hythe and walked along the prom, but unfortunately it was hazy and we couldn't see the French coastline. We walked along the canal and they were amused that the canal and the Martello towers were built to defend ourselves against the French!

      Geneviève is recently widowed and admitted she had been nervous about coming here. She spoke very little English but over the weekend became more confident at 'having a go'. She turned out to have a brilliant sense of humour and had us all in stitches on Sunday evening when we got together with Anne, Adrian and the Balloffy's for a long, leisurely meal - French Style"
    2. French visitors Annie and Jean Ballofy with Anne Leva and Adrian
      "Adrian and had a very good time with our guests, Annie and Jean Balloffy, their granddaughter and friend. They were very easy to please and seemed to have a good time. We teamed up with Sue, as having four guests our car wasn't big enough to transport everyone. We had an enjoyable joint evening with Sue and her guests at my house. I think they were very pleased and perhaps surprised that we cook rather well in England. I think it gives the French a better idea of life in an English family to have a meal at home. I was relieved to have had the forethought of buying some herbal tea (the French like their tisane) and hot chocolate - the girls didn't drink anything else….

      All in all a successful experience and we look forward to going back there next year if we can..

    The BNM weekend in pictures

    inside the roperyinside the ropery 2
    inside the ropery 3inside the ropery 4
    Geneviève & Maddyinside the submarine
    at Goodnestone GardensConviviality

    BNM visit to Chatham Dockyard, Sunday 12th June 2011

    No room to swing a cat? Don't spin me a yarn!

    Have you ever thought that whether there is room or not, one should not swing a cat? The origin and true meaning of this expression and many others became clear during our enlightening visit of the Ropery, one of the highlights of our outing to Chatham Dockyard. Our enthusiastic and knowledgeable guide explained the history and gave a practical demonstration of rope making, ably assisted by Peter Beales, Geoff Macdonald and Martine Cheutin.

    As we watched the demonstration, with all its intricate twists and turns, our guide told us he was "not spinning us a yarn'. Sailing ships had huge numbers of ropes and it took new conscripts a long time 'to learn the ropes'.

    Life on board ship was highly regulated with codes of conduct strictly enforced. Infringements were dealt with swiftly and brutally. Punishments were conducted in front of all the crew and officers. The guilty sailor had to make his own 'cat of nine tails' for his flogging, which the bosun wore in a bag around his waist until the time came for the public flogging. In the meanwhile everyone was on their best behaviour in case the bosun should 'let the cat out of the bag'.

    Floggings were always carried out on deck, as the restricted head height below deck meant there was 'no room to swing a cat'.

    On the subject of ropes, Adrian makes the following comments:
    • There is only one rope on a boat, the one that hangs from the bell. All other ropes have a name, to confuse non-sailors and give sailors that smug look when shouting at someone
    • standing rigging supports the masts
    • halyards raise and lower the sails
    • sheets pull the sails in and out and trim the sails: main sheets, jib sheets, spinnaker sheets.
    • sheets and halyards are known generically as running rigging.
    • wammy is the generic slang term in the Navy for rope, yarn or string - "wammy those together"
    • Lines tie the boat up: bow and stern lines and springs
    • a painter is the bit of rope on the front of a dinghy used to tow it
    Whether or not you were able to join us, we hope you have found this interesting.

    Sue, Adrian and Anne
    tree-hugging pictureface of horror

    Rather than using the last page for a recipe, for a change we have printed two photographs for which we would like you to submit captions. The best ones will be printed in the next edition of Le Jumelage. Please do have a go, it is all in fun and we do have permission from Anne to use these photographs (her twisted arm is getting better!). Please e-mail your captions to me at paulinedavis42[at]yahoo.co.uk


    Editor: Pauline Davis, 24 Hog Green, Elham, Canterbury CT4 6TU.   Tel: 01303 840367   e-mail: paulinedavis42[at]yahoo.co.uk