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25 September 2001

Over 20 Cookham residents ranging in ages from Christopher Turner at 5 to the retired Mr Markham made the trip to our hosts in St Benoit. Agnes Fougeron and Laurence Barraine had arranged a lively agenda. A bring and share 4 course meal on the Friday evening started the celebrations. which with all the wine and food and conversation lasted until 2.30 am! 

Everyone takes a break from the champagne at a reception in the Mairie

The weekend was timed to coincide with their annual cultural exchange and St Benoit had invited a folk dance troupe from Maris El, a Republic in the middle of Russia, to perform at their theatre. We had seats for the Saturday night performance, preceded by a formal welcome by the new St Benoit Mayor, M-r Dominic Clement. 

It's only 2.30am

The dancers and their musicians were excellent. Their costumes were heavy dresses with aprons, and boots for the ladies, and tunics and black trousers with boots for the men. Their style was more folk than Kossak, however, we were still treated to lots of twirling and stamping feet and acrobatics from the men. The evening ended in another shared meal, including the Russians, who provided music for some energetic dancing, thankfully concluding at 3.30 am!!

Verte Venise (Green Venice)

Needing to soothe a few sore heads, Sunday's activity was a gentle trip to "Verte Venise" (Green Venice) at Coulon. This area has hundreds of kilometres of canals which were built by the 
monks in the 13th century to help drain the land. We took out flat bottomed barges which looked similar to punts, but with 2 oars to paddle with and a tiller were far easier to handle. This proved great fun for young and old and many water fights ensued, perfect for the 35 degree temperature. Then it was back to our hosts for a meal, and farewells on the Monday. 

Simon and Julia Bysshe have a picnic with their host family

If you would like to take part in our next visit or more information on the Twinning activities, come along to our stall at the Cookham Dean Village Fete or contact Liz Kwantes on 01628-525130. It really is good fun, and the French are lovely people, particularly in St Benoit.

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