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French Fun

(3 November 2004)


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The French visit at the weekend just got better and better. The French having arrived on Friday night went and had dinner with their hosts who were dotted around Cookham. The following morning they all met at the Stanley Spencer Gallery along with the photographer from the Maidenhead Advertiser. This was the last weekend of the Summer Exhibition which was celebrating the bi-centennial of the Royal Horticultural Society, which meant they were able to see some of Spencer's wonderful flower paintings. Dick Hurley, Chairman of the Gallery, gave an introduction to everyone in French, which was much appreciated. 

Dick Hurley  

Then half the group went for a walk round Cookham led by Molly Hurley who showed the visitors the sites of some of Spencer's paintings at Odney, the Ferry and Holy Trinity.  Dick decided that it was easier to speak in English, however he had some willing translaters on hand.

  Timmy Mallett and Michael Cameron-Wood 'listen' to the Spencer talk

It was then off to lunch at Spencers, with a stroll up the High Street. 

Bon Appetit!

There was a certain amount of chaos as everyone could choose from Spencer's extensive menu, some people had already decided what they were having at the Gallery and then immediately forgot what they had ordered when they actually got to Spencers. So some had soup after the main course and others had more than they had ordered, but it was bonhommie all around.

Dominique, Mayor of St Benoit, at Spencers

Saturday afternoon was free, so hosts showed their visitors Cookham with bike rides and some went further afield to Oxford and the Chilterns.

The Bysshes relax over tea at Cliveden with their visitor Francine Raphel

Sunday morning everyone gathered at Cookham station for a trip to London.  Another little panic when it was found that the train times had changed due to work on the tracks. However everyone got to Paddington and managed to see an enormous amount, go in red buses and walk miles. Some were having such a good time that they missed the train back to Cookham, but were able to get a later on to Maidenhead.

London here we come

As soon as the visitors had arrived back from Cookham they were whisked off to a reception organised by Twinning's President, Richard Simmonds at his home.  All his family had helped prepare a wonderful evening, with candles all the way up the drive and nibbles prepared by his daughter who had trained at the Prue Leith School of Cookery.  Pat Woodbridge, Chairman of the Parish Council, also came along and was able to talk to the Mayor of Saint Benoit about the different ways British and French local councils work. Richard Simmonds, who had been an MEP, joined in.

Richard Simmonds in animated discussion with the Mayor of St Benoit and the Chairman of Cookham Parish Council

After the reception it was across the road to the Jolly Farmer for supper. This was specially prepared for Twinning as the Jolly Farmer is normally shut on Sundays.  After a fantastic meal prepared by chef Terry, silly games were embarked upon organised by Timmy Mallett. 

A silly game

The games got noisier and noisier.  Language no longer mattered there was too much laughing, although there was a rendition of some Welsh rugby songs, in Welsh!!   

Another silly game

All too soon it was time to say Goodbye and it was the start of another Monday for everyone. 

Au revoir, a bientot

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