These days, the week-end visits tend to be around July / August with the group leaving
Handcross in a coach early on a Friday morning. We drive down to Portsmouth and
board a cross-channel ferry taking us across to Ouistreham near Caen. Although with
coach prices increasing we are now more likely to go over to France in our own cars
sharing lifts with each other.
We then drive to St Martin, usually having time to stop off en route for a lunchtime
snack and/or a stroll around to take in the ambience, planning to arrive in the village
square at St. Martin at around 6 p.m. when they have hopefully finished the day’s
work! There we are met by a cheery group of our hosts, waiting to collect their appointed
guests, and take them to their homes, in the village or surrounding area, for sustenance
and rest before the next day’s activities.
Who actually ‘collects you’ is normally pre-arranged by the local committee, with
many ‘regular’ visiting members of the group tending to stay with families they have
come to know from previous visits. On a Saturday morning it is usual to meet up
with all the other hosts and guests in the village to be taken on an organised trip,
usually by coach, to a place of historic charm or natural beauty. We return in time
for a short rest and prepare for the evening gathering with our hosts (le tout ensemble!)
who provide us with a special dinner and entertainment .
Sunday is usually left up to your hosts to arrange, but it is highly unlikely that
you will just sit at home! The French take a lot of trouble in providing for the
hospitality and entertainment of their guests, and one of our ‘difficulties’ of the
twinning week-ends is that of matching their generosity when they come to us on a
return visit! Monday morning arrives with those hurried last minute ‘packing of cases’
before rushing off to the square for that last group photograph before boarding the
waiting coach (or cars) and waving goodbye for another year.
I have recently found two videos on Youtube of the first visit to France and another