Past Events in Buckingham
COFFEE and CROISSANTS 4 February 2017
We duly met once again for our regular Spring conversations in the Old Gaol over croissants and kugelhof. Views were exchanged but it
was not surprsing that Brexit came up once again. One thing that we all agreed on was the obvious fact that it would never
be allowed to affect our friendships in Mouvaux and Neukirchen-Vluyn. This year we admired an excellent display of photographs of
events of BTA events over the last few years.
CHRISTMAS COMMUNITY FAIR 10 December 2016
We once again were present at the Christmas Community Fair held in the Community Centre on the
the day of the Carnival Procession. We had leaflets and pictures on display but the attraction turned
out to be a bagatelle challenge eventually won By Carol Penny, who is seen here receiving her prize from
Pat Phillips. It proved to be a great draw and people, young and old, were keen to have a go. All participants were given a twinning leaflet
and the whole thing usefully raised our profile.
CIVIC VISIT 30 September - 2 October 2016
We waited a long time for their arrival at the new Lace Hill Community Centre. Our visitors got held up on both sides of
the channel so the evening was almost over when they arrived in Buckingham. We discovered that our planners had got the sizing of the roads on this
new estate very wrong, because they were far too narrow for their very large coach. In the end we had to drive
down to the meet them.
This has since been picked up by our local paper, as this could be dangerous if a fire
engine needs to get up to deal with a fire.
Anyway we collected our guests who in the circumstances were in remarkably good humour and a late supper was eaten in houses around
On the following Saturday in the morning our visitors split into two groups. One, including Mouvaux's Mayor, went to Aylesbury, where they were
given a conducted tour of District Council Offices and viewed town centre developments. Discussions then took place led
by the Chairman of AVDC.
The other group were taken on a guided tour of Buckingham by Annie Millicamps. Some of us were delighted to see them for
coffee at our "old contemptibles" meeting in the parish church half way through the morning. A few of us then joined them
for a convivial sandwich lunch at the Buckingham Opportunities Centre in Well Street.
In the afternoon they all then went off in their own coach to Oxford. It is such a shame that this always seems to
a feature of these visits for we do not go with them for such a large part of the day. All visitors then had a convivial meal
with their respective hosts.
On the Sunday morning Valerie Shaw took them on a guided tour (in French) at Stowe with particular emphasis on the work of Capability Brown, whose
tercentenary of his birth we celebrate this year. A few of us went with them which was nice. We ended up with coffee at
the Temple of Concord & Victory, which overlooks Brown's creation at Stowe, the Grecian Valley.
We returned to Buckingham to enjoy a very sumptuous official Civic Lunch hosted by the Town Council under the watchful
eye of Paul Hirons, our Deputy Mayor. All too soon we had to go outside to meet their coach and they were off on the way
back home. In the view of your correspondent we did not see enough of them this time: I hope that a way can be found for
us to spend more time with our visitors as happened when some of them came in July.
WEEKEND VISIT 16-17 July 2016
Following our most successful Boules Tournament (see below) our visitors from Mouvaux were taken round the town and then
visited Waddesdon Manor on a very hot day. Stephanie hosted a most enjoyable and convivial party Supper on Saturday evening
where the most delicious food and much conversation (a little halting in places) took place.
On Sunday morning we saw them off from the Bus Station in their enormous coach. They visited Oxford on the way back and got
across the Channel just before all the hold-ups that took place later that week. The whole visit all seemed rather short so we look forward to seeing
some of them again in October.
BASTILLE ANNUAL BOULES TOURNAMENT 15 July 2016
This year we were delayed by a day from the traditional Bastille Day, because we received a large party of French
cyclists who came over on the 15th and stayed the weekend. We were saddened of course by the news from Nice on
Bastille Day itself of the tragic deaths from a lorry being purposely run through a large quantity of people
on the promenade whilst they were celebrating the day. All agreed that it was a horrific accident and as a mark of
respect we flew the French national flag at half-mast by the Community Centre.
The competition proved to be rather different this year. As well as having quite a few French experts competing
amongst us, the Milton Keynes Petanque Club turned up in force to do battle. Their professional attitude was
immediately evident when the competitors on my rink held their boules by means of a magnet attached to a cord
plus I was closely questioned about my decisions and competence as an umpire to be in charge of a rink!
All this meant that Buckingham residents failed to get very far this year. I was sending back scores like 9-1 back to
the organiser, Ron Gleeson. However good humour was the order of the day. A large crowd turned up to watch.
BBQ burgers were immediately devoured and French wine was enjoyed: we ran out of both before the end.
The final between two MK players and two of our French guests was a very close affair played under floodlights in the
darkness of a late evening and it was perhaps politic in the end that the French carried the day.
It was a great evening - roll on next year! Many thanks to all who worked so hard to make it such a success.
WINE and CHEESE May 2016
In May we very much enjoyed Cheese and wine organised by Ron Gleeson, which as usual was a popular evening. Food and
wine to please all palate was provided. Once again in a very relaxed atmosphere there were lots of laughs and hopefully one
has learnt one or two facts about the wine we were tasting. As ever, merci Ron and Muriel.
COFFEE and CROISSANTS 24 February 2016
Delicious coffee and real flaky crescent-shaped croissants helped to create the French ambiance at the Old Gaol
on Saturday 13th February. Flags and photos reminded us of our links with France, while German cake recalled
very pleasant times with twinners from Neukirchen -Vluyn.
Old friends chattered and chortled and new friends
were welcomed as the exciting 2016 Twinning programme was discussed. Accommodation was offered for the much
anticipated Civic Visit from Mouvaux next September and support promised for the April quiz and the July Boules
Tournament. A most convivial morning.
YOUNGSTERS VISIT 19 May 2015
On Tuesday 19 May over 50 students from Mouvaux met our new Mayor, Andy Mahi. He handled their questions with aplomb, even speaking a word or two of French. The youngsters had earlier met fellow students from the Royal Latin SChool and Akeley Wood School and were then off to Stratford-upon Avon.
Stehanie Scrase, our Chairman, said that "we were delighted to welcome them and we noted how impressed they were to meet the Mayor!"
SMALL GROUP VISIT FROM NEUKIRCHEN VLUYN 1-3 May 2015
Our two visitors and their son visited Buckingham from 14th to 17th May. While Dorothe and Thomas stayed with Margaret and Paul Gateley in Buckingham, their son Tobias stayed in Brackley with his school exchange partner and his family. It was a first visit to our town for the parents, although they have travelled quite extensively in England before.
The journey over was fairly lengthy with road works before they reached Antwerp and long queues at passport control at Calais. Consequently thy missed their ferry and when they eventually arrived in England they were delayed on the M25 in the rush hour. They finally reached their hosts a little travel weary at about 9.00 and sat down to a very welcome meal.
On Friday morning I joined them to show them round Buckingham. After visiting the Old Gaol and the Parish Church, we walked down towards the university where I met a friend who asked whether we would like a guided tour. A young lady who does tours for prospective students led us round the buildings including the new medical school, which was very interesting. After a very welcome cup of coffee we strolled back in to the town centre across Chandos Park. En route it was a nice surprise to meet a couple of German friends who live in Buckingham: suitable pleasantries were exchanged.
In the early afternoon we adjourned to Stephanie’s house who had very kindly invited us along with Jane and Howard to tea and cake (Kaffee und Kuchen). After a very hospitable couple of hours and some delicious cake Dorothe and Thomas went back to their hosts for the rest of the day.
Nothing had been arranged for Saturday during the day as Dorothe had said before they came over that they were quite happy to explore on their own. In fact they walked to Stowe and spent a pleasant day exploring the grounds.
On the Saturday evening I had booked a table at the Woolpack for our guests, their hosts, Steve and myself and Paul and Valerie Hirons. We had a very pleasant evening and a nice meal.
On the Sunday morning they left for home stopping for breakfast in Brackley with their son and his exchange family. I was relieved to learn that the journey back was far better than the one coming over. We hope to see them again when we go to Neukirchen Vluyn for a gardens and castles trip in the middle of September this year.
If any twinning members are interested in joining us on this trip please contact Sue Watkins 01280 816266, email@example.com
COFFEE and CROISSANTS - 7 February 2015
It was delightful to see so many members warming their cold hands on… hot membership cards! Yes,
this year we produced and laminated them on demand and were delighted to see so many members collecting
theirs at our event on Saturday 7 February in the Old Gaol. Also there to warm everyone was a
delightful selection of croissants and some German Topkuche in chocolate and orange, all accompanied
by fresh Fair-trade coffee.
The colourful display of twinning events over the past 10 years was much admired with some squeals of
delight as people recognised themselves. Members were also able to pick up a flier of events planned
with our friends in France and Germany in 2015.
Chairman Stephanie said, ‘This was a great way to say happy new twinning year to many of our members
and also to welcome new ones. We have a full programme for 2015 with trips to both France (Flanders)
and German (Gardens and Castles of the Rhine) as well as many other events to suit all interests.
FRENCH at the BUCKINGHAM CARNIVAL 2014
The Eiffel Tower came to Buckingham, somewhat to both parties’ surprise, when our friends from Mouvaux sent
a Jazz duo to whoop it up in the Buckingham Christmas Parade on 13 December. The music was wonderfully ‘cool’
- and, indeed, the players were frozen but they kept smiling and brought much enjoyment to the thousands of
people who turned out to watch.
A warm welcome was extended to Sandrine Ducret-Delsalle, deputy mayor of Mouvaux, who marched in the parade
and helped John Bercow to present the prizes. Chairman Stephanie hosted Sandrine and her husband, Thomas,
with daughter Margaux. Annie Millecamps came too and everyone enjoyed a lovely get together after the parade
at Stephanie’s house.
The serious business of twinning was not forgotten though as the 2015 planning meeting took place with due
seriousness after the very convivial meal. More news soon!
GREAT HORWOOD BAND CONCERT - 11 October 2014
One Saturday evening in October the Great Horwood Silver Band performed a concert at Buckingham Community
Centre to raise funds for the Buckingham Twinning Association.
After a slow start in attendees arriving, a further row of chairs had to hurriedly be put in place to
accommodate the customers. A large audience enjoyed a mixture of old and new tunes, ranging from
Jupiter from the Planets Suite by Gustav Holst to ‘Something’ by George Harrison.
The audience were
also treated to the English Folk Songs suite, which for me brought back memories of the Last Night
of the Proms. Edelweiss from the Sound of Music and Bouquet de Paris which was a collection of French
songs (chansons?) in honour of the international links of the Twinning Association were one of the highlights
of the evening.
Among the players in the band were some very talented soloists. It was very difficult to sit still
and not tap your feet in accompaniment to the music and I think a lot of the audience found they
had the same problem.
Wine and soft drinks were served at the interval and the evening featured the ever popular raffle
with some lovely prizes.
CHEESE & WINE with RONNIE GLEESON - 1 August 2014
We were delighted when Ron Gleeson said he would be happy to present another of his infamous cheese and wine
evenings as it had been three years since the last one! And so it was, on Friday 1st August, 48 people piled
into the intimate surroundings of Maids Moreton Village Hall. There was a good mix of tasters, from members
of the Buckingham Wine Circle, guests and friends of those involved with the Buckingham Twinning Association
plus people from the village.
Ron is very knowledgeable and animated about his subject and thus is able to give his audience an excellent
presentation on each wine and cheese that he and his wife Muriel have carefully chosen. Following a sparkling
rosé from Bordeaux, the assortment of three white and three red wines took us to Languedoc, Roussillion, Lyon
and the Maconnais region of Burgundy, whilst the cheeses covered the length and breadth of the Hexagon, from
Nord pas de Calais to the Basque borders of France and Spain.
Wine is, of course, a very personal taste, but from the rise in volume as the evening progressed, there was
no doubt that everyone present was getting into the swing of the occasion!
The planning for this event appears on the surface to be quite a simple affair – with three main ingredients
– wine, cheese and of course the baguette - just how much more simple can it be? However, behind the scenes
much is going on. Whilst Ron is front of house, Muriel and her helpers are making sure all is on track, with
cheese cut and bottles opened ready for the next tasting. It’s a busy evening for those in the kitchen!!
So it is with gratitude that we must thank Ron and Muriel for their work in putting together such a splendid
evening and to top it all a profit of some £258 was made. The guests on my table certainly asked for an invite
to the next one!
BASTILLE DAY BOULES TOURNAMENT 14 July 2013
A warm Sunday afternoon, dappled sunlight through the trees, a cooling breeze: a perfect French setting
for playing boules. This was after all 14th July, an excellent day to celebrate links with our French
twin town, Mouvaux. Hay bales (thanks to Chris James) and sand (thanks to AVDC) completed the scene and
spectators didn’t disappoint: loud cheers and gasps punctuated the keenly-fought games as players tossed
incredible shots to reach the “cochonnet” or performed unbelievable “tirs” to knock out an opponent.
The fortunes of two young people who had never played the game before were being followed particularly
closely by family and friends: Emma Pearson and Jamie Niesyto advanced through the rounds using amazingly
exciting tactics until they came up in the final against former winners Julian and Sheila Handley.
Everyone was on the edge of their hay bale for five ends until the very last shot when experience finally
paid off and Julian and Sheila emerged as worthy winners. However, Emma and Jamie have promised to come
back next year to challenge the victors!
INTER-TOWN YOUTH FOOTBALL TOURNAMENT 22-23 June 2013
Moretonville Football Club hosted between 2000 and 3000 players, officials, visitors and from Buckingham
and other British places, Mouvaux in France and Neukirchen-Vluyn in Germany spectators over the weekend
of 22-23 June to take part in a massive youth football tournament. To organise such a large event is
some achievement and Mark Chapman and his team are to be congratulated on such a successful two days.
Teams, official and supporters from Mouvaux and Neurkirchen-Vluyn arrived on Friday morning, those from
Germany travelling overnight. After a look round Buckingham, a practice match or two and a meal in a
Buckingham primary school the two parties camped in two locations near Gawcott. There were high winds
on Friday night so some of the lighter tents with the French were unfortunately blown over so necessitating
a temporary move into the pavilion but the Germans survived better, because they were in the old-fashioned
guide tents. Luckily the weather improved over the rest of the weekend so all spirits rose, particularly after a good (English) breakfast on the Saturday morning.
There was some excellent football on display from the boys and the girls across the wide-range of age groups.
Some highlights from the two days included a splendid performance from the Mouvaux U-15s to win the cup on
Saturday and Moretonville U-13 girls Xl to win the shield on Sunday after a very tense penalty shoot-out with
a N-V team in their semi-final.
John Bercow MP kindly gave out the prizes on the Saturday and the Mayor, Ruth Newell was on hand to do the same
job on the Sunday. The spectators then left having had a feast of good football. Some tired limbs left for
home having felt that they had given their all and had taken part in a very special event.
For a very detailed and, at times wry, report on the weekend from a N-V perspective do read their much fuller
description of all that happened. You will find a translation of this in on the N-V pages on our web-site.
DANCE GALA IN BUCKINGHAM 15 June 2013
A much delayed arrival (wretched M40!) on the Friday did not seem to affect the energy levels of the 16 Mouvaux
girls at the Saturday morning dance rehearsal, although Janey Betts, choreographer and dance teacher extraordinary
and founder of Cairos Dance School, did her best to exhaust both these dancers and the pupils from Buckingham
Secondary and Primary Schools, as they practised their prepared routines (autumn, winter and spring respectively).
They then launched into “summer”, a joint presentation learnt in under an hour. The dancers were gasping and
laughing simultaneously as they went to lunch, weary but thrilled at their achievement.
The public presentation at the Community Centre delighted the audience: unbelievably supple limbs, dreamy
candle-lit sequences and the sheer joy of dancing captivated everyone, some even admitting to tears. The wild
carnival atmosphere of the finale, with all the dancers inter-reacting, was enough to make twinning hearts burst!
Meanwhile, 8 guests from the Twinning Association had been getting to know their English hosts and our town and
finding another kind of dance in the streets - Morris Men and also a ladies’ Morris team.
English folk dancing was the final dance revelation for our guests at a Ceilidh in the evening, when participants
were invited to swing, hop and gallop to live music, with a very tasty ploughman’s supper, prepared by our wonderful
in-house caterers Margaret and Sheila, as a welcome resting point. At last, we had worn out even the most excitable
Margaret and Sheila were on the go all weekend: we are so grateful for their efficiency. We also warmly thank
our magnificent hosts, the staff of the two schools and of course the incomparable Janey Betts. It seems this
weekend may lead to an invitation to celebrate the opening of new dance premises in Mouvaux. It’s what twinning
is all about.
SOIREE EN FRANCAIS – 17 Mai 2013
2012 had been an incredible year for the Twinning Committee and so it was that 2013 dawned and it was time to
think up new ideas and ventures. We knew the coffee and croissant mornings and the Boules evenings were
always a winner, but what could we do that was just a bit different? A French Soirée that’s what!
Andrea Lord came up with the idea of a simple evening of wine, chat and a quiz (what’s so unusual about
that I hear you ask?) The difference being the entire evening would be conducted in French! And so it was
– thanks to the hospitality of Derek Carpenter - that approximately 15 people arrived for an evening of French banter!
All guests were given a different coloured ticket which would put them into groups for the Quiz. It was all a
bit nerve wracking to begin with, but once the wine got flowing, one could hear the week’s events, holidays and
general daily life being discussed en français. You could visibly see everyone relaxing into the evening,
by which time all participants were ready to take on the challenge of the quiz which was very ably conducted by
Andrea, (did you know that Gérard Depardieu has taken Russian citizenship as a protest against French taxation rises!).
This was followed by a wonderful offering of a Tarte Paysanne produced by Stephanie – simply delicious.
We were very pleased to receive three “real” French people to our Soirée so for those of us who are still grappling
with mastering the language, it was inspiring to hear the native tongue among us!
The main aim of the Soirée was to encourage the Francophiles among us to speak, learn and indulge in a bit of fun
(not to mention enjoy un verre du vin or two). It was a fun evening and by all accounts is definitely to be repeated,
but perhaps with a variance of themes.
COFFEE, CROISSANTS AND KUGELHOPF – 9 February 2013
Saturday 9th February dawned a cold,damp but reasonably dry day. We set up with a great pile of eats so it was with a little relief
that people slowly started to come into the Old Goal for a cuppa, with the added bonus of accompanying
it with either a croissant, pain au chocolat or as a new innovation this year, some kugelhopf to celebrate our
German connection. Conversation flowed and, as custom increased, we had to lay out an extra table. It was nice to see the
familiar faces but even better to meet some new ones. A display of our activities created interest and our
membership secretary was on hand to sign up new members and renew the membership of others. French music added to the atmosphere.
In theory, this is quite a simple event, but we are pleased to have the help of many in setting-it up and running the
show. A raffle with prizes, kindly donated, raised some more valuable funds and we are grateful to all those that came.
BEAUJOLAIS DANCE EXTRAVAGANZA - 17 November 2012
At one minute past midnight on the third Thursday of each November, from little villages and towns like Romanèche-Thorins,
over a million cases of Beaujolais Nouveau begin their journey by motor-cycle, balloon, truck, helicopter and jet, elephant,
runners and rickshaws though a sleeping France to all parts of the world. One of the most animated rituals in the wine
world has begun. The whole operation is now protected under French law!
Beaujolais Nouveau began as a local phenomenon in local bars, cafés and bistros of Beaujolais and Lyons. Each autumn
in pitchers filled from the growers’ barrels, wine was drunk by an eager population. It was wine that was made fast
to drink while the better Beaujolais was taking a more leisurely course. In 1951 the region’s governing body –
the Union Interprofessional des Vins de Beaujolais – officially recognised the term Beaujolais Nouveau. Soon after
the annual race was born as an event.
On a more technical note under French and European rules the wine should be strictly called Primeur, as it is released
between its harvest and the following spring. The term Nouveau should be used for a release between its harvest and
the following autumn. The primeur part has been forgotten in the excitement.
What makes Beaujolais Nouveau so popular, especially in the US and the UK? Simply put, Beaujolais Nouveau is about
as close to white wine as red wine can get. Owing to the way it is made, where the “must” is pressed early after only
three days, the phenolic compounds, in particular the astringent tannins, normally found in red wines, are not there
leaving an easy to drink fruity wine. This, coupled with the fact that it tastes best when chilled, makes for a festive
wine that can be gulped rather than sipped and therefore unable to be critiqued by the pundits.
The race from grape to glass may be silly but half the fun is that knowing that on the same night and the following
day people are drinking it all over the world at the same time. Its pedigree may not be a classic but it is good to drink
and any other opinion sounds rather boorish.
We celebrated this fact by having a "Beaujolais Dance Extravaganza” on Saturday 17 November at Maids Moreton Village Hall".
I wanted to get people together in a convivial way and, as I am keen on dancing, I thought that an unusual way to celebrate
would be to offer all sorts of different dances for people to enjoy with Beaujolais to loosen the limbs.
We featured line-dances, country-dancing, jive and ballroom and it was great to see most people "having a go". In the end the line-dancing proved to be the most popular
helped along by a group from my line-dance class. We received the disturbing call on the Friday that the van containing our Beaujolais had been stolen on its way to us.
To my relief further supplies lunchtime on Saturday. Some people are very snooty about Beaujolais but it cannot have been that bad, as 80 odd people managed to get
through 32 bottles of the stuff. Those entering were given a glass of Beaujolais Nouveau and the room was soon a buzz of expectant conversation. The dancing started slowly but our first session of line-dancing
got numbers on the floor. Room was tight but some correct dancing was done by some.
Half way through we enjoyed a supper of baguettes and French paté and cheeses. Free unlimited lemonade was drunk by
those anxious to assuage their thirst and further supplies of Beaujolais and fruit juices were for sale. The evening finished
with a raffle where fFunds were raised for the Association. All voted that the evening was voted great fun.
FRIENDSHIP TREATY WITH NEUKIRCHEN-VLUN - 7 July 2012
The first weekend in July saw the visit of four people from Neukirchen Vluyn, Mouvaux’s twin town in Germany, to Buckingham
to sign the friendship treaty between them and Buckingham. Our guests flew into Luton airport arriving at Sue and Steve
Watkins house late on Friday evening for a light buffet and to meet their hosts. The group consisted of the mayor,
Harald Lenssen, accompanied by Franjo Terhart, Gunter Fischer and Christian Berges, who are all members of their
On Saturday morning we had a guided tour of the grounds at Stowe on which we were ably led by Val Shaw. We travelled from
the New Inn to our starting point on the land train which was driven by Bill Truscott, who was hosting one of our guests
with his wife Sandra. We then adjourned to Boycott Farm for a delicious lunch.
In the early afternoon we went on a guided walking tour of Buckingham led by Lilian McDonald, who had translated her
commentary into German for the benefit of the visitors.
Later in the afternoon arrangements had been made to sign the Friendship treaty in the Council Chamber. We were joined by
our Mayor Ruth Newell, several councillors and members of the Twinning Committee. After welcome speeches from both mayors,
the treaty was signed, small gifts were exchanged and a toast in English sparkling wine rounded off the event.
In the evening a barbecue was held at Sue and Steve Watkins’s house for the guests and their hosts, and various other
interested parties including some members of the U3A German group. Fortunately by then the rain had stopped for the day.
On Sunday morning our guests left for Luton Airport for the flight home. Franjo and Gunter were actually staying on
in the UK to go to Scotland for a few days before returning to Germany.
A very enjoyable weekend was had by all and we look forward to future events with our German friends.
SMALL GROUP VISIT TO BUCKINGHAM - 19-22 June 2012
Six months earlier, I received a message via Jane that Annie Millecamps (who had become a close friend over the years
of ‘twinning’) had asked if I could organise a programme for a small visiting group. This was a group who, having visited
Buckingham before, wanted to take a closer look at Buckingham and the surrounding area than is usually possible during
a regular exchange. After chatting with a few local experts and Annie herself, I was pleased to find that an interesting
and varied programme came together.
The first day was devoted to Milton Keynes where Patsy McCarthy gave us a guided tour of the Open University and Milton Keynes
church. The group was surprised to find out that the world’s leading provider of distance learning is on Buckingham’s doorstep;
and that the ecumenical Church of Christ the Cornerstone is used jointly by five different denominations, as well as for
Tai chi classes!
Of course, a swift visit to the shopping centre was obligatory, first to see copies of the famous cows, and then to check
out the sales. One of our visitors managed to bag quite a few bargains, telling me they were less than half the price of
the same brands in Lille.
A vegetarian lunch was enjoyed at the Camphill Centre, Willen, where the group were delighted to taste some local Milton Keynes
beers. Walking across to view the lake and the Peace Pagoda, the Buddhist monastery was spotted and we just had to take a
tour of the gardens. Astonishment was expressed at the importance of religion today in the U.K.
After a hasty supper with hosts, we reunited for a lively concert at the Town Hall given by the ‘Oxford Fiddle Group’.
Home to bed before the group were up and off to Whaddesdon Manor, this time unsupervised! I had been told that the French
like to keep on the go and don’t need stops like the Brits so I took a rest for the day. Happily the rain held off until
the afternoon allowing them to explore the grounds in the morning before viewing the interior splendours in the afternoon.
Evening arrived and we all enthusiastically gathered at John’s for a barbecue with entertainment. Luckily John managed to
serve the food and have us all comfortably seated under gazebos before the Heavens opened. Despite concerns about the
electrical equipment, Ian (John’s son) and his co-singer gave us a first-rate concert. Jacques, Valerie and myself managed
to dodge the raindrops to have a ‘bop’, whilst everyone else raced in and out of the kitchen to sample the delicious desserts.
(A heartfelt thanks to John for putting on a much enjoyed get-together.)
Friday morning arrived all too soon and we met for the last time in the Stony Stratford Road layby to stow luggage in the minibus.
Hosts and guests reluctantly said farewell as we headed off on foot to pay a visit to Maids Moreton. After a walk up the
old Drover’s track, Holloways, we met Lynne Robinson at the church. Once again our visitors received a glimpse of the roles
churches play in British culture. They were delighted to understand Lynne’s very clear talk in English which covered the
history of the village from the Vikings and Angles to the present day. A walk up Main Street to view the thatched cottages
was cut short by an intense rain shower. Luckily we had the minibus and cars on hand, so we were able to make a visit to
Gawcott Church to view an impressive art exhibition. There we were offered teas and cakes which were gratefully consumed.
Once again, amazement was expressed over the imaginative uses to which our local churches are put.
The visit finished with a sandwich platter at the Wheatsheaf Pub back in Maids Moreton where several of the hosts were
able to join the group for a final goodbye. Individually ordering drinks at the bar was hugely enjoyed – thanks to the
patience of the bar staff.
As ever, a wave of sadness swept over us as we waved the minibus ‘au revoir’. But, with exchanges of addresses in our pockets,
promises to meet again in October on our lips, and a strong sense of having strengthened Buckingham’s bond with Mouvaux,
we felt a warm glow of satisfaction as we turned away.
Many thanks to Ginny for organising hosts and helping me to think through the programme, to Valerie for stepping in at
various points to trouble-shoot, John for the barbecue, and, of course, to the hosts who offered much appreciated hospitality.
JUBILEE BEACON & BARBECUE 4 June 2012
As part of the Buckingham Town celebrations, the Town Council organised the lighting of a beacon in Bourton Park.
Notwithstanding that the conflagration took place at ground level, the flames from the bonfire shot up to a great height.
The large crowd that assembled in the park to celebrate this event were grateful for the warmth provided by
this beacon on a less-than-warm evening on June the fourth.
For their part, the Twinning Association had been invited by the Town Council to run a barbeque stall. The request
was eagerly received by our committee who foresaw good publicity, and with luck, some profit.
Henry and Stephanie set up their large barbeque outfit adjacent to the Twinning gazebo. Sue, Valerie, Margaret, John,
Geoffrey, Henry and Stephanie, Howard and Jane comprised the cooking and selling team, whilst Mark excelled
as the maitre and kept the orders flowing in. They enjoyed a brisk trade. Thanks to the procurement team led by
Jane, the stall did not run out of combestibles or drinks.
The whole event was successful and very enjoyable. At the same time, valuable experience was gained in the event that
we are involved in a similar barbeque. What is more, early indications are that a good profit was made for the Association.
10th ANNIVERSARY CIVIC VISIT - March 2012
It’s been a year in the planning (although I’m sure it was added to the Future Events of the Agenda way back in 2010!),but last March saw the fruits
of some very hard labour as the celebration of 10 years of twinning between Buckingham and Mouvaux finally took place.
And what a weekend it turned out to be. Our French dignitaries and members of the Chant Chorale de Mouvaux arrived on Friday March 9th to a warm welcome
by members of the Buckingham Twinning Association and those who would be their hosts for the weekend and where they would spend their first evening.
The Lenborough Singers pulled all the stops out and gave the Mouvaux Choir a welcome party in Gawcott Village Hall where they could get to know each
other better before finally singing together the following day.
Thanks to the wonderful organisation of Jane Mordue and Val Shaw, a busy weekend was planned for our guests. First off, on Saturday morning, there was
a formal welcome ceremony in the newly refurbished Radcliffe Centre following which a Plane tree was planted in the Buckingham Parish Church garden.
This was followed by a lunch in the Church which was organised and prepared by members of the Church and the Twinning combined. Once fed and watered, the Lenborough Singers and the Chant Chorale de Mouvaux were able to rehearse together for the first time, whilst others were whisked off to visit Stowe Landscape Gardens.
If, like many, you have never been to a concert held by the Lenborough Singers – then you have been missing a wonderful experience. Many hours of
practice enabled the choirs to give the audience in the packed St Peter’s and St Paul’s Church a faultless performance, and it was no doubt a nerve
wracking experience to sing together as one choir when rehearsals had been done separately. The Chant Chorale sang some beautiful pieces, but it was
the Lenborough Singers night as they stole the show with The Armed Man by Karl Jenkins.
For the first time, they were also accompanied by......?
“Formidable”, “Magnifique”, “Superbe” - to quote just some of the French spectators and participants as they watched our own Lenborough Singers
give their absolute all. However, their repertoire is far ranging and it is worth looking at the forthcoming Diamond Jubilee concert which will
include some lighter music from the last 60 years.
So then it was Sunday and a very happy band of French visitors went on their way to enjoy some British sunshine in Oxford, but not before one last
ceremony which was the naming of the small room in the Community Centre as the Mouvaux Hall. A plaque was unveiled and will be placed above the door.
As usual the goodbyes were lengthy as people lingered not wanting the weekend to end. There is no doubt that new friendships have been formed as people
from either side of the Channel find yet another common interest.
A Civic visit of this nature always entails an element of formality so a big thank you to the Mayor of Buckingham, Mike Smith plus the Buckingham Town
Council for participating in the weekend.
It’s not all one sided, as members from Buckingham Twinning Association have been invited to go to Mouvaux for a return visit in October.
I think you will agree that the Buckingham Twinning Association can touch all walks of life. Not every event will appeal to all people, but those
who do get involved have a very good time indeed – you only have to observe the smiles, the laughter and the exchange of emails and addresses to
know how true this is.
COFFEE, CROISSANTS AND PRETZELS – FEBRUARY 2012
One day later and it could have been a different story, but Saturday 4th February was a cold, crisp morning which fortunately didn’t stop people coming into the Old Goal for a cuppa, with the added bonus of accompanying it with either a croissant, pain au chocolat or even a pretzel. We also had some Topfkuchen to add to our repertoire in order to embrace our friendship with Neukirchen-Vluyn. The place was buzzing as everyone tried to keep warm for a while or was just making the most of being able to catch up with friends – at one point, it was positively heaving! This is always a popular event, so a big thank you for your support.
In theory, this is quite a simple event, but with much effort that goes into the organisation to make it run smoothly. Thank you to Valerie for setting it up as usual; Jane, Janet, Sue and Terry for being the people “on the ground” whose aim is to coax, cajole and possibly arm twist people to join; David for organising the raffle and of course to the lovely Muriel, Sheila and Stephanie for organising and helping with the refreshments.
WINE and CHEESE TASTING AUGUST 2011
At the beginning of August we had, once again, a most enjoyable tasting evening at The Well Street Centre. Ron Gleeson introduced the wine and cheese in his inimitable style that is both expert and interesting. Back in the kitchen, David, Sheila and Muriel were preparing the good fare presented to us.
Wine One was a Clairette de Die Tradition sparkling white wine. Ron explained that this was a rare type of wine that is not produced by the Champagne method. Indeed it was discovered by accident two thousand years ago when a shepherd cooled his flask of wine in river la Drône and forgot it until the next year. By this time, it had transformed into the pétillant wine we were able to enjoy. The cheese was from Provence.
Wine Two was a Cave de Buxy Boissonnier white produced from the Aligoté grape in Burgundy. This was accompanied with Merzer – a cow’s milk cheese that comes from Brittany.
Wine Three was a white Côtes-du-Rhône from the Domaine de Givaudan in Provence. Ron explained that the grape varieties in this wine were Clairette and Grenache. The cheese was a Chimay Bière. This is made in a Trappist monastery, where the monks not only make the beer, but also the cheese into which it is dunked.
Wine Four was a rosé from the hills of Bandol in Provence. The cheese was Etorki Brebis. This was a tasty cheese, and is made from the milk of sheep that are raised in the Basque country.
Wine Five was one of my favourite wines. It was a Syrah-Merlot red made in the winery named after Père Anselme at Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The cheese also was one that I particularly liked – Delice de Bourgogne It is rich and creamy and is made in Burgundy.
Wine Six was a red wine is produced by Domaine de la Perriere near Chinon in the Loire Valley. It was enjoyable, and a little lighter than many Chinons. The cheese was Morbier which comes from the east of France. It is soft and tasty, and is distinguished by the thin black layer of ash that runs across its middle.
Wine Seven was a Jean-Luc Maldant Côtes-de Braune Villages Red. This was a most enjoyable wine made from the Pinot Noir grape, and another of Ron’s selection that came from Burgundy. The cheese, Vieux Flandres, as its name suggests, comes from Flanders. It was absolutely delicious.
Wine Eight was a Cave de Tain Crozes Hermitage Red made from the Syrah grape in the Rhône Valley. The cheese was Bleu des Causses. For a blue cheese it was quite mild, and, like Roquefort is matured in caves in the gorges of the River Tarn. However, unlike Roquefort, it is made from cow’s milk
We are so lucky to be able to enjoy Ron’s superb presentation of wine and cheese, and although we hope that it will not be the last, we are unlikely to meet again in the Well Street centre in the future.
BASTILLE DAY BOULES TOURNAMENT JULY 2011
We duly celebrated Franc's special day by gathering on 14 July, Bastille Day, to play some boules on the cattle market, converted through the good offices of the AVDC and Colin Whitehead into four pistes to do battle for the trophy. This year we laid on an extra piste, because in past years we have had far more people than we could accommodate. On a fine and sunny evening we were surprised this year by a lower turn-out however and so to our disappointment it was hardly used.
Armed with a set of boules, a glass of wine and a hot dog plus onions from the barbecue, some beginners and some (clearly) experts joined in this wonderful game that went on for three hours before ending in a closely fought final, won by Marie Louise-Lewis (otherwise known as Mouse) and Mark Wellington.
It was a fun evening which attracted the usual crop of curious sightseeers. Hot dogs and some very passable wine was there to enjoy accompanied by French music ringing out over the town. There were some unexpected winners in the early rounds knocking out the experts who turn up year after year. It was nice to see a new four in the final. Thanks must be given to the so many people who worked hard both before and on the day of the event to make it the success it was. The large part of the this was due to the bon-hommie of Ron, dressed for the part, who kept it all going.
CIVIC VISIT FROM MOUVAUX 1-3 JULY 2011
ENCORE ! SO MUCH TO DO – SO LITTLE TIME - that was the general feeling of the French contingent who visited Buckingham at the beginning of July. Our visitors took us by surprise by arriving early at the Buckingham Athletic Football Club. Greetings were exchanged and the hosts took their guests home for a meal.
For those of us who live in Buckingham we perhaps never fully appreciate what is on our doorstep, but to those from Mouvaux who were either visiting for the first time or returning for a second or even third time, there is much to explore. With Stowe, Oxford, and Blenheim so close at hand, there was a lot to choose from when looking at the proposed itinerary, not to mention of course wandering round Buckingham itself. It was a first visit for the Mayor of Mouvaux Eric Durand who was so impressed with the beauty of Stowe that he wants to come back and have a longer visit in order to fully enjoy the splendour of the gardens.
On Saturday morning a number of successful collaborative meetings took between local groups and associations. French youngsters from Mouvaux came to take part in discussions with the Youth Council of Buckingham and were impressed with the cleanliness of the town and the lack of both graffiti and dog mess! There was a very positive meeting between the two Trade Associations with emphasis on what Mouvaux can glean from Buckingham’s lively town centre! Dance and Choir groups gathered together to discuss future events for next year, which incidentally will be the 10th anniversary of the Twinning between Buckingham and Mouvaux..
In the meantime the rest of the party were taken on a tour of Buckingham. All finished at the Old Gaol for coffee. Outside this we were treated to a fencing display by three young people from Mouvaux and we were entertained by the Buckingham Acoustic Club.
In the evening, some preferred to entertain their guests at home, or take them to a performance of HMS Pinafore but a party and a barbecue were also on offer for both hosts and visitors alike which enabled everyone to get together and enjoy some Buckingham joie de vivre!
The weekend culminated in a Civic lunch held in the Community Centre where gifts were exchanged and presentations made. These visits give people a chance to experience the hospitality and culture of another country and Buckingham and its inhabitants certainly pulled out all the stops in extending a warm welcome to our friends from Mouvaux. With the 10th anniversary in 2012, it looks as though we will be doing it all again.
JOINT WALK in the Dover area - April 2011
Last year the joint walk with the Mouvaux Association des Randonneurs took place on the French side of the Channel in June during a heat wave. At the end of that walk, we all prayed that the next time we met, it would be in much cooler conditions. Our prayers were answered, as the walk this year on English soil took place on a much cooler day on Sunday 3rd April and we had some sunshine.
There were 15 walkers from Mouvaux and in three cars they arrived in Dover on time on a P & O ferry at 09.35 am. In 2007 and 2009, they came in much larger numbers as foot passengers and the walks had to start and finish at the Docks. This time, as they travelled by car, we could plan a walk away from the port and in the beautiful Kent countryside.
We all met in the Jackdaw Inn car park in Denton, an attractive village with timbered cottages, and at 10.30 am, the walk got underway but there was soon to be a short pause so that our Mouvaux friends could visit Denton’s small country church. After several ‘ups and downs’ and clambering over numerous stiles, we arrived at a newly planted vineyard in the Elham Valley which was the lunch stop. Outside the café, there were sufficient tables which we could use for our picnic lunch, and the café provided a supply of drinks. The walk continued over more undulating countryside, where lambs and primroses were in abundance, through woods and over more stiles finally arriving in the pretty village of Barham. It was here that we had time to admire both the outside and inside of the village church. At 4.00 pm we arrived back at the Jackdaw Inn car park. The pub was very busy, as it was Mothering Sunday, but the proprietors (knowing that we were coming) had saved us a number of seats in the garden, and we were soon enjoying a very welcome drink.
Stiles in France do not exist, and from the conversations emanating from around the tables, it was clear that climbing over them provided much hilarity for our Mouvaux friends. Some of them were suffering with a few aches and pains after the walk.
Soon after 5.00 pm, the Mouvaux Walkers were on their way back to Dover to join the P & O ferry to Calais.
Since the day of the walk we have had a number of e-mails from Mouvaux, and it was pleasing to learn that another very successful twinning event had taken place. We now understand that the Buckingham Walkers will be invited to join the Mouvaux Walkers in 2012 in France on their weekend away.
COFFEE and CROISSANTS at the Old Gaol - February 2011
On a sunny morning in February the weather was positively balmy. We set up the old Gaol prison yard to welcome hopefully some curious passers-by in the town market. A large French flag fluttered at the entrance and the BTA banners were promninently displayed on the railings. Committee members duly set up the French café and with friends we enjoyed our first coffee and very large croissants. Soon people began to arrive and we had a very busy time throughout the two hours.
It was not long before large numbers came in and soon the room was filled with friendly voices. Old friends and new chattered happily about Mouvaux, France and twinning in general, and we were able to welcome several new members to our ranks. There were pictures to look at and information on Mouvaux for people to study.
The hard-working ladies in charge of the tea, coffee, hot chocolate and croissants must have wondered what had hit them when long queues formed and reformed at the counter, and extra chairs were needed as no-one wanted to leave. Meanwhile the raffle tickets were eagerly snatched up as punters competed for a selection of donated gifts kindly donated by members.
By the end we had eaten most of the croissants. Once again this very simple event was voted a success and we had brought a little French atmosphere to Buckingham on a winter morning. Hopefully we had also raised the profile of the Twinning Association.
BEAUJOLAIS CHANTILLY EVENING - 19 November 2010
At one minute past midnight on the third Thursday of each November, from little villages and towns like Romanèche-Thorins, over a million cases of Beaujolais Nouveau begin their journey by motor-cycle, balloon, truck, helicopter and jet, elephant, runners and rickshaws though a sleeping France to all parts of the world. One of the most animated rituals in the wine world has begun. The whole operation is now protected under French law!
Beaujolais Nouveau began as a local phenomenon in local bars, cafés and bistros of Beaujolais and Lyons. Each autumn in pitchers filled from the growers’ barrels, wine was drunk by an eager population. It was wine that was made fast to drink while the better Beaujolais was taking a more leisurely course. In 1951 the region’s governing body – the Union Interprofessional des Vins de Beaujolais – officially recognised the term Beaujolais Nouveau. Soon after the annual race was born as an event.
On a more technical note under French and European rules the wine should be strictly called Primeur, as it is released between its harvest and the following spring. The term Nouveau should be used for a release between its harvest and the following autumn. The primeur part has been forgotten in the excitement.
What makes Beaujolais Nouveau so popular, especially in the US and the UK? Simply put, Beaujolais Nouveau is about as close to white wine as red wine can get. Owing to the way it is made, where the “must” is pressed early after only three days, the phenolic compounds, in particular the astringent tannins, normally found in red wines, are not there leaving an easy to drink fruity wine. This, coupled with the fact that it tastes best when chilled, makes for a festive wine that can be gulped rather than sipped and therefore unable to be critiqued by the pundits.
The race from grape to glass may be silly but half the fun is that knowing that on the same night and the following day people are drinking it all over the world at the same time. Its pedigree may not be a classic but it is good to drink and any other opinion sounds rather boorish.
We celebrated this fact by having a Beaujolais “Chantilly Evening” on Friday 19 November at the Well Street Centre. Chantilly is a famous French race course so this evening was organised as a "Race Night” with a difference. The hall was duly marked out with lanes and stages for the horses and the Beaujolais was procured just on time. Those entering were given a glass of Beaujolais Nouveau and the room was soon a buzz of expectant conversation. Six "horses" were with difficulty recruited for the first race and Geoff's tote open for business to accept bids of 20 pence on any horse. Four more races quickly followed. Winners were paid out their dues and it was not long before many were eager to volunteer to be the horses.
Half way through we enjoyed a supper of baguettes and French pate and cheeses. Free unlimited lemonade was drunk by those anxious to assuage their thirst and further supplies of Beaujolais and fruit juices were for sale. Further races then followed featuring more stages and we had one each for stallions and fillies. The evening finished with a raffle for all those who did not win their bets and we sold off the remaining Beaujolais. Funds were raised for the Association and all voted that the evening was voted great fun. Some people are very snooty about Beaujolais Nouveau but it cannot have been that bad because 40 odd people managed to get through 20 bottles of the stuff!
BAFA AUTUMN ART EXHIBITION - 13-14 November 2010
For the first time, Buckingham Art for All welcomed four artists, Alain Delsalle, Hubert Devriendt, Marthe Comte and Serge Grockowiak invited from Buckingham’s twin town of Mouvaux to the autumn Art Show. The show’s theme ‘Inspired by a Poem’, gave everyone’s imagination wide rein. “The involvement of the Mouvaux artists added a new dimension to our annual BAFA competition and exhibition held. Everyone was pleased by the outstanding quality and variety in their paintings. It was a delight to get to know them and their families and to have them to stay in our homes. We look forward now to an ongoing and reciprocal relationship between BAFA and our friends in Mouvaux.
The weekend’s exhibition was a great success. It was opened formally by John Bercow, MP and Speaker of the House of Commons, with speeches of welcome by Peter Baker and responses by Michelle Delsalle and Annie Millecamps, who came over with them as the organiser of the twinning link at the Mouvaux end. There was a great sense of camaraderie and our visitors expressed excitement in being able to meet the English painters and to show their paintings.
Hosted by BAFA members and local families, the visitors ended their stay with lunch at Boycott Farm before going back to the Buckingham Community Centre to take down their pictures and set off back home to Mouvaux.
MURDER MYSTERY EVENING - A puzzling case for Inspector Cluesans
On 17 September 2010 we gathered in the Community Centre to solve a murder mystery produced by the Old Gaolers under the direction of Terry Penny.
Now we all know that a traditional murder mystery ends up, as in Cluedo, with Colonel Mustard killing Miss Scarlett in the library with poison or something similar. However Terry Penny, in writing this entertainment, firmly set his face against such frivolity. We were presented with a scenario that I dare to say, none of us would have dreamt of – the entirely mythical world of international competitive jigsaw competitions. Most of the cast seemed capable of doing crosswords in the 5 to 10 minute bracket.
As with any lucrative competitive sport all sorts of, not entirely healthy, emotions were stirred by a mixture of money, glory: I believe a bit of sex even got a look in. Unfortunately, for your correspondent, the identification of the actors with the characters in the story became ever fainter as the story progressed, so when the murder happened it was difficult to be sure who actually was missing.
A fine meal, together with wine, then followed, which added nothing to the audience's cognitive powers, before the arrival of Inspector Cluesans (without a clue...get it?) and his sidekick.
To keep the audiences little grey cells going we were presented with a quiz that asked us to identify 20 different forms of death, for example suicide, ovicide. This of course really sorted out those who had done Latin and/or Greek at school from the rest and ended up with two tables scoring 19 out of 20.
The interrogations then commenced, with the audience, most of whom had done this before, straining to look out for the information that would lead to the identification of the killer. Sure enough one of the characters came out with information about the circumstances of the killing that only the murderer could have known. This was only part of the solution however. We then had to link the actor who gave away his guilt, with his name...and this is where your correspondent failed!
We have to thank Terry Penny & the Old Gaolers for a testing and enjoyable night out that we can perhaps repeat in the future.
WINE & CHEESE EVENING 2010
On a sunny Summer evening in August once again the members of the Twinning Association were treated to a very enjoyable and convivial tasting of cheese and wine. The event was a sell-out and the level of noise in the Well Street centre said it all. The wines and cheeses to match were skilfully selected by Ron Gleeson. Ron’s presentations of the wines were most interesting, and resulted from his expert knowledge of the subject. Of course all the wines came from France.
Wine one was a Bailly-Lapierre Brut de Charvis sparkling Rosé. This Burgundy was an excellent way with which to start on a summer evening. The vineyard is located in an old stone quarry and this results in unique growing conditions for the grapes. With the mild La Galette cheese, wine two was 2008 Cuvée Spéciale de Durban Viognier White. This vin de pays comes from close to the famous mountain feature, the Dentelles de Montmirail – a splendid sight!
The ever popular Chaumes cheese was coupled with wine three, 2008 Domaine Dutetre Clos de Pavillon Touraine-Amboise White. This family vinery is located near the historic city of Amboise. Its cellars and museum are carved into the tuffa rock, a typical feature of this stretch of the river Loire. Wine four, 2009 Rosé Vallon Côtes de Provence Rosé. The wine is made in the department of the Var – one of the more beautiful parts of France. This was accompanied by farm produced Gruyère cheese
Wine five was 2007 Château de la Valette Brouilly Red. This Beaujolais has a fine reputation. With this we eat an unusual cheese called Chabrin, which is rarely found in this country. Wine six was Sandrine Cesbron Cuvée Signée St. Nicholas de Bourgueil Red with Crottin Chavignol cheese, made from Goat’s milk. This wine comes from the region not far from Chinon.
Wine seven was 2008 Domaine de Rolland Fitou Red, produced in the deep south, with cheese Pont Lécvêque – another one of my favourite cheeses. The vineyard is in the centre of the famed Cathar fortress region. Come here if you like sunshine! Wine eight was Bourgogne Hautes-Côtes de Nuits Red with a blue cheese, Bleu des Basques from the Basque region. Côtes de Nuits is the home of the well- known Nuits-St-George, and the territory of the renowned Pinot Noir grape.
The whole evening was a super presentation of cheese and wine by Ron. He was assisted by Muriel, their grandson Charlie, John and Hazel Bird and Margaret Clark.
BASTILLE DAY BOULES TOURNAMENT 2010
Buckingham’s best free event took place on 14 July and the attendance was up on previous years despite the uncertainty of the weather. A great fun evening was had by so many residents and it even attracted visitors from other towns.
Armed with a set of boules, a glass of wine and a hot dog plus onions from the barbecue, some beginners and some (clearly) experts joined in this wonderful game that went on for three hours before ending in an international final where two young Australians, living in Buckingham, Emily and Edward Hawlin, won at the very final end against Frenchman Jacques Rives partnered by our representative and previous winner, Mike Booth.
Thanks must be given to the so many people who worked hard both before all the day of the event to make it the success it was. These included Valerie Shaw, who always puts in so much work behind the scenes, Ronnie Gleeson, who works as the front man and arbiter and the ladies, who provided refreshments – Stephanie Scrase, Muriel Gleeson, Rosemary Stuchbury, Margaret White and Sheila Everson. Our umpires, David Everson, Sue Watkins, John White and John Murray controlled the rinks, wielding their measuring tapes to decide those close decisions. Scorekeeper, Joe Farrell kept us on track and Martin Try provided the necessary sound and music (truly French of course). We are also very grateful to the AVDC and Colin Whitehead for providing the sand and the bales.
It was a wonderful success, because of the time and effort of everyone involved. Ron fails to mention that his “bon-hommie” and Frenchness in manner and dress was a large part of this success. – Ed.
INTER-TOWN TWINNING FOOTBALL TOURNAMENT 2010
The sun shone on some happy footballers.....
On Friday 9 April, some 70 players and their coaches converged on Stowe School from our twin town of Mouvaux and their twin town of Neukirchen Vluyn. Having been amazed by their beautiful surroundings, they then settled in to the rooms and dormitories. An informal soccer pitch was set up just to the side of the school’s hallowed cricket pitch and everyone enjoyed a hearty meal together in the evening. Saturday was the big day for matches with a number of local teams joining the hosts, Moretonville Junior Football Club, over at their playing field just outside Buckingham at Gawcott. The games were fast and furious and led to a final play off between Mouvaux and Buckingham.
Teams from Chesham and Moretonville ended up as the final winners and the trophies were graciously presented by John Bercow, our MP and Speaker of the House of Commons. Sunday saw a series of friendly matches played courtesy of Buckingham Athletic Football Club, followed by shopping in Milton Keynes and the ferry home!
Thanks are due to Mark Chapman and Moretonville Football Club for carrying out all the extensive administration, to Stowe School for their hospitality, Buckingham Athletic club for the use of their pitch on the Sunday and of course all the visiting councillors, including our own Mayor, parents and friends.
Plans are now being made for a repeat in Neukirchen-Vluyn in 2011.
COFFEE and CROISSANTS at the Old Gaol - February 2010
One winter’s morning.....
It was a cold Saturday morning in February, and I wasn’t looking forward to spending two hours hanging around in the Old Gaol waiting for one or two of our braver members to wander in from the chill of Buckingham market. So I was in no hurry to arrive, and indeed with ten minutes to go, there was no one in the (scarcely warmer!) old prison yard except for a handful of committee members and friends. Outside festive blue, white and red balloons were buffeted in the piercing wind, while inside the usual contingent of willing helpers must have felt their efforts in setting up tables, and preparing refreshments, were going to be in vain.
But then people started to arrive, and soon the room was filled with friendly voices. Old friends and new chattered happily about Mouvaux, France and twinning in general, and we were able to welcome several new members to our midst.
The hard-working ladies in charge of the tea, coffee, hot chocolate and croissants must have wondered what had hit them when long queues formed and reformed at the counter, and extra chairs were needed as no-one wanted to leave. Meanwhile the raffle tickets were eagerly snatched up as punters competed for a selection of unwanted Christmas gifts – or perhaps they all hoping to win the bottles of wine?
By noon the yard was emptying and all the croissants had been sold, but as I walked back through the flea market to the car the sun was shining and it seemed as if the atmosphere of France was already spreading through the town, making Buckingham a warmer, livelier and more vibrant place.
By courtesy of the Buckingham & Winslow Advertiser
BUCKINGHAM CARNIVAL 2009 - The visit of the Géants
Saturday 12 December dawned bright and clear for Buckingham’s 25th anniversary parade. It had rained hard on the previous two years so there was some consternation when at 9.00 am it started to drizzle, completely at odds with the weather forecast. We were relieved when the cloud cleared by the beginning of the parade at 10.45 am.
52 people from France had come over the previous evening. There were a small group from Mouvaux, the Géants party from Zuytpéenne and a lot of supporters, recruited from various villages around Lille, who had come to play as a band and to march in the procession. They arrived in one of these large French coaches bang on time and we greeted them in the Small Hall in the Community Centre. They were then taken to various homes in the Buckingham area for a meal and accommodation.
They were instructed to report to Chandos Road at 9.00 am, extraordinarily early on a cold sharp day. The walkers chose to carry playing cards to simulate the magic card trick to fit in with the theme of the carnival, The Magic of Christmas.
A total of 38 floats and other attractions left to go through the town at about 11.00 am following the judging. Large crowds greeted us in the middle of the town and the Géants were certainly a “hit”. It was a great occasion – some say the best ever. The icing on the cake was the announcement that the Géants had won first prize in the adult section.
After a lunch at the White Hart, our visitors dispersed around the town. Some were even taken to Stowe.
Rain at about 4.00 pm somewhat dampened some spirits. All gathered at the Buckingham West End Bowls Club to mix, talk, eat, drink and to generally entertain each other. There were some very loud French songs and more sedate carols from the English. Barry gave us a Latin rendering of Old MacDonald’s farm, which brought the house down.
Stephanie produced some lovely food and drinks were bought from the club bar. Paul had laid on extra supplies of wine but by the end he found that he had not sold a single glass of wine to a Frenchman! - they loved his selection of English beers. Such a good time was being had by all that we had some difficulty in bringing the occasion to a close. We are grateful to the Club for allowing us to use their premises.
Early next morning, having suitably breakfasted, English style, our visitors left from the Community Centre, happy in the knowledge that once again that friendships had been gained across the Channel.
BASTILLE DAY BOULES TOURNAMENT 2009
A large crowd of prospective players and curious spectators assembled at Buckingham's Cattle Pens on Bastille Day,
France's national day, to celebrate it in suitable fashion in honour of Buckingham's twin town Mouvaux. Pairs of contestants queued to try their hand at the game,
the aim being to get the most number of boules (solid, very heavy metal balls) nearest the cochonnet or jack.
By 7.15 pm, all 32 slots were filled and soon the clink of boules being knocked out of the way, the singing of French chanteurs and shouts of "Bravo!" recreated a
typical French scene. Tricolore bunting fluttered, French chanteurs
sang and friendly greetings of “Bonsoir!” echoed around as the matches got under way, directed by Ron Gleeson and supervised closely by marshals at each
of the three pitches. Before long, agonised “Oh”s and loud “Hurray”s marked the players’ progress, while spectators ate their hot dogs and sipped the excellent
wine on offer. There were even French voices to be heard because several guests from Mouvaux and Paris had joined the fun and were delighted to show the English
how to play their national game. However, it was a pair from Bancroft Petanques Club, Geoff Bovingdon and Tom McNicholas, who finally won in a closely contested
match…but then they do play three times a week!
Robin Stuchbury presented the cup and Ron Gleeson was congratulated on
having done a great job as MC and chief referee.
It was a great evening enjoyed by so many people - young
and old, men and women. A game that everyone can play - as shown by the
number of participants who had never even seen boules before. We show one of our members showing some of the would-be
participants the necessary technique of play!!
MIDSUMMER SOCIAL EVENING - June 2009
At a Midsummer Social Evening event in June, Sandrine Zambaux from the Modern Foreign Languages Dept. at the University of Buckingham gave a talk
- "Discovering British culture: a personal journey through French eyes".
Her talk was described by Jane Mordue, Chair of BTA, as “charming and entertaining”, and was warmly welcomed by the 50-strong audience. Sandrine
explored the similarities and differences between French and British cultures, basing the evidence on her own experiences as a newcomer to England in 1996.
She started her talk in an unexpected way by exploring in detail with her audience their own conceptions of French culture and landscape through their own
prejudices and ideas about the French.
They soon realised there were other possible ways of viewing their well-known world and often smiled, as they were asked to think about aspects of
British vocabulary and idiomatic expressions, British food, humour and the way we act so leading us to appreciate some of Britain’s most cherished values.
She then asked us to link our views with her own feelings so enabling us to deepen our understanding of cross-cultural differences and to decipher
important facets of French and British behaviour.”
The event proved to be a very sociable affair filling the hall of the Well Street Centre with much chat and laughter to the fragrant smells of a fish
and chip supper. There was also two testing quizzes to test the audience’s knowledge of French icons, celebrities, artefacts and alimentation.
Sandrine certainly won us over with her Gallic charm and her interesting observations of our peculiarly English passions and behaviour. We hope
that we will enjoy her company again.
JOINT WALK AT DOVER - March 2009
Once again our annual get together with the Mouvaux Association des Randonneurs is now an event, which has become extremely popular
on both sides of the Channel. Walkers from Buckingham (10 in number) met their counterparts from Mouvaux (26 in number) on a dry
and sunny Sunday morning on Sunday 13 March at the Eastern Docks in Dover. Their P and O Ferry from Calais docked at 10.15 am and,
having disembarked, our French friends were quickly made very welcome. There were a number of familiar faces in the Mouvaux contingent
but also a few new faces, including one lady who admitted that this was her first visit to England!
A coach had been pre-booked to take the party from Dover to Walmer Castle, where the 8 mile return walk to Dover would commence.
The Coastline near to the Water’s edge was followed for 2 miles before the ascent of Bockell Hill. It was here, near to the World
War 1 memorial that there was a pause for a picnic, where we were able to sit on the grass on top of the cliffs overlooking the English Channel.
Following the break for refreshments, the ramble continued inland as far as St Margaret’s at Cliffe and the Smugglers Inn, where the staff made
everybody feel very welcome. Our French friends do appreciate stopping for drinks at an English pub, and a pint of English bitter or just
a cup of English tea.
The walk then continued back to the cliff top and the South Foreland Lighthouse. From here we had the best views of the White Cliffs of Dover.
There was just time for a brief pause on Fox Hill Down overlooking the Eastern Docks before the twenty minute stroll down to the docks
and the departure lounge for those travelling back to Calais on the 17.30 pm P & O Ferry
This was another successful twinning get-together, which was thoroughly enjoyed by everybody participating. We now look forward to 2010 when we will be walking on the French side of La Manche.
Sheila and David Everson
CULTURE/ARTS VISIT - October 2008
Following an invitation from the Buckingham Decorative and Fine Arts Society (BDFAS), a deputation of fourteen art lovers from
Buckingham’s twin town of Mouvaux spent two and a bit days with us from 3-5 October 2008. They were entertained right royally
by members of BDFAS, joined by enthusiastic members from the Buckingham U3A French groups and the BTA.
They came in three cars, having driven from Mouvaux and arrived mid-afternoon on the Friday. They were greeted at the
Community Centre, were given refreshment and met their hosts for the weekend. The exposure to local artistic matters started
here with an illustrated presentation in fluent French by Bob Keating, mainly presenting the historical background and contents
of Waddesdon Manor and New College, Oxford, both of which they were due to see over the weekend. In his talk he explained why
“New” College is in fact the oldest college in Oxford!
Saturday was spent in Oxford. Piloted by John Murray, our guests drove themselves to the Pear Tree Park and Ride on the outskirts
of Oxford, from where they took a bus to spend the morning at the Ashmolean. After lunch we walked to New College and with the aid
of a tour guide written in French we had a look round this magnificent example of an Oxford college.
The day ended with a relaxed reception buffet dinner evening at Mastings, the home of Sylvia and David Firnberg in Preston Bissett.
We were joined happily by many other guests.
Sunday morning was spent at Waddesdon Manor, where once again we met Bob Keating, who acted as a French-speaking guide around the house.
Lunch at a reserved table in the Manor restaurant ended their all too short visit to sample the artistic delights in the Buckingham area.
After lunch they left for their boat at Dover and were given a truly British experience of a mammoth traffic jam on the M25.
Entente cordiale x 2
A few of our Mouvaux friends joined us in John Murray's garden for a festive barbecue. All sat round laid-out tables in John's attractive garden, which was much
admired by all.
John and Roy Taylor managed the fires with great aplomb and their efforts which were appreciated by all. The day was dry and we actually had
some sun in this dreadful summer.
QUIZ NIGHT IN TINGEWICK - April 2008
On Friday 18th April Tingewick Village Hall was full to bursting with contestants gathered to pit
their wits against quiz master Terry Penny. In groups of between 3 and 6, everyone groaned and gasped for inspiration to
find answers on the tip of the tongue - what was the name of the hero
of "Titanic"? - where is rugby played in Paris? what peace
treaty was signed in 1949? Gales of laughter erupted at intervals from
different tables as ribald answers were considered. The usual teams again did well but we did get a new winner this year! I am always surprised on
these occasions how much people know concerning such a mass of trivial information. Meanwhile, everyone had enjoyed a tasty supper provided by a hard-working group of volunteers. This was washed down with welcome drinks from the bar.
It was a truly enjoyable
evening, spent in most agreeable company. As a bonus, the Association made a very
useful profit. Our grateful thanks go to Rosemary, Terry and their team for
all their hard work to make it possible.
MOUVAUX CIVIC VISIT APRIL 2008
This year things were a little different. Numbers were large, as we were looking after the members of a whole band and we had quite a lot of new hosts
sharing the twinning experience. It was also different in that rather disappointingly many of our old friends from across the water were not able to
come. However once again it was happy weekend, sharing meals,
walks and interests while getting by in two languages.
The students had a short experience of an English class at the Royal Latin School and the band went to the Parish Church to warm up and practise for their
performance that evening. The concert in the evening was a unique occasion in that a full church enjoyed the most marvellous playing of brass with The Great Horwood
Silver Band and the Band de Nord - Pas de Calais. At the end of the evening the two bands joined together to lift the roof with a truly magnificent
sound. The French bandsmen (why no women!?) enjoyed some liquid refreshment in the Three Cups while the rest of the audience wended their way home also refreshed by a
rather special experience.
On the Saturday students from RLS and the Lycée Gambetta de Tourcoing joined together to work on a project comparing the expectations of their
two cultures - "Culture in a Box". The cyclists went off for a cycle ride into the Oxfordshire countryside and the Band had an all-day workshop under an English
guest conductor - Frank Renton - , which was reported to be very stimulating and worthwhile.
In the meantime the rest of the French visitors went on a trip to Bourton-on-the-Water. It rained there and back but the sun came out to enable all to enjoy
a visit to such a beautiful Cotswold town with visits to quaint tea shops, Birdland and a motor museum. In the meantime the Judo enthusiasts had gone to Winslow
to share experiences of Judo and other martial arts.
The bandsmen once again retired to the Three Cups, as we waited for the return of the coach party. All then retired to eat dinner in various locations
arranged by the hosts.
Sunday dawned in deep snow. The youngsters went swimming in the Swan Pool while the rest of us gawped at the lovely landscape around us. At 11.30 am we all joined together for a (very) long Civic Lunch
kindly financed by the Town Council. Pleasantries were exchanged. Bernie Russell was deservedly made a "Friend of Buckingham". Gifts were presented and thanks stated. The morning ended with a
short presentation from the students about their earlier project.
WINE & CHEESE TASTING - March 2008
One barrel of wine can perform more miracles than a church full of saints. Italian proverb!
Members and friends arriving at the Well Street Centre on Friday 14 March were greeted by a roomful of large round tables, laid with appropriate coloured
napkins, two glasses each, lots of water and bread all to encourage us into the mood of la belle France. As usual we started with a refreshing
glass of sparkling wine.
Ron Gleeson’s well-tested formula of half a glass of
carefully chosen wine, with explanations of origins, methods and
characteristics, was repeated eight times accompanied by some most interesting cheeses. We were kept well supplied by
Ron's team. We finished the evening with a powerful glass of Languedec Red from the South of France by the Med.
Once again it was a superb occasion, cleverly devised and expertly
presented in every detail, reminding us all why we are Francophiles and why
we value so much the expertise of Ron and his colleagues. Those who never came missed a real treat.
Don't miss it next time!
BUCKINGHAM CARNIVAL 2007
The theme this year was “Christmas TV Specials”. In the case of our contribution this subject was interpreted pretty loosely! We decided to celebrate the victory
of England over France and we planned a float with Rugby posts and the two figures of Wilkinson and Chabal, suitably attired. They would be accompanied by junior rugby players from the Buckingham
RUFC plus some walkers with A-boards.
Saturday dawned cloudy but very soon the forecasted rain came in. It rained and rained and rained. The youngsters wrapped themselves in anoraks and Wilkinson and Chabal
were consigned to history. Our float was generously provided and driven by Henry Scrase and we were pleased to be joined by Berni and Dominique from
Boy - was it wet! It was surprising to see so many onlookers, as we went through the town but we were not surprised to note that many had disappeared indoors
for their mulled wine on our return. I travelled on the parade as a Caribbean pirate with Jack Sparrow. When the parade stalled in the Cattle Market, there was no
escape from the rain and I could feel the water reaching my underpants! We,the Rotary, did receive the Premier prize. The winner was a clever church float depicting
"Songs of Praise" and we were pleased to see the ladies of Inner Wheel come second with their Queen's Speech.
However the twinning float was commended by the organisers and our young men from the Rugby Club kept up the singing of many renderings of the English rallying-call
but we must explain to a mere Frenchwoman, Stephanie by name, that the English song talks about ONE chariot! Anyway once again all voted it a success once
we had dried out and warmed ourselves up. Berni and Dominique met us afterwards in the local chinese restaurant and the opportunity was taken to review the programme for 2008.
BUYING A PROPERTY IN FRANCE
We gathered in the Well Street Centre to hear Philip Jenkinson from Lille to hear about the hazards and joys of buying a property in France. He proved to be both
entertaining and informative. The meeting ended with a panel session. Wine and delicious refreshment was then served kindly prepared by some BTA stalwarts.
Unfortunately no picture was taken so you will not be able to see what a most enjoyable and successful occasion it proved to be. It included a raffle with a difference
where we were asked to guess the identity of a mystery prize by feeling its shape: few got it right! What made the whole evening so successful was the opportunity to talk to quite a few people presently with
properties in France and to hear of their experiences. We gained some new members too!
I have written some notes on the information from Philip Jenkinson's talk which might be of interest. To read these please click on
JOINT WALK AT DOVER 2007
On Easter Saturday with a certain amount of anxiety and in trepidation, 8 members of the local Walking Group,
together with Jane Betts and Howard Mordue from the Twinning Association, arrived in Dover in time to meet 15 walkers from Mouvaux who had travelled as foot passengers
on the P&O Ferry from Calais. The sky was blue and there was a slight chill in the air, as the boat docked on time at 09.05am.
The walk quickly got underway, and, following a steady climb on foot out of the port, the viewpoint on top of Fox Hill Down was soon reached After a brief pause,
the walkers headed over the top of the White Cliffs in the direction of St Margaret’s Bay with a mid morning break for refreshments close to the South Foreland Lighthouse.
A picnic lunch and a rest on the top of Bockell Hill was another welcome break before descending the cliffs down to St Margaret’s Bay and The Coastguard Inn.
The amenities of the Inn were very much appreciated, particularly by our French friends! Suitably refreshed, we walked back to Dover quickly gaining height until the lighthouse
was reached. Different paths were then used following the edge of the cliffs. A slight descent into Langdon Hole was followed by an ascent and soon the National Trust
Information Centre and Café soon came into view. There was then another break and as luck would have it, we were all able to see the cliffs at Cap Gris-Nez
on the other side of the Channel. We had another refreshing drink (they seemed to drink a lot! - Ed), prior to the final descent back to the Eastern Docks in Dover.
Reluctantly, we then had to say goodbye to our 15 Mouvaux walking friends, after a very memorable day’s walking in such good company. We are now very much
looking forward to the next time.
BUCKINGHAM CARNIVAL 2006
The theme this year was “Christmas over the world” so it was particularly appropriate that a large party came over from Mouvaux to take part.
They had a trying journey over the Channel owing to high winds but they eventually arrived tired but expectant late on Friday evening.
Most went to bed soon afterwards to prepare for the day ahead.
Saturday dawned bright and sunny and quite mild for a December morning. The parade assembled in Chandos Road to make ready to take part.
Seasoned observers said it was the longer ever and our visitors were quite surprised how big it was and how well supported by the town.
They had brought over two Flemish “giants” and it was fascinating to see how these were assembled and we were astonished to see the larger
one carried by just one brave man. We were however not surprised to be told that there were frequent change-overs during the parade itself (it took over an hour!).
Our visitors were well received by the crowds and we were pleased that they were awarded a third-place rosette, which was duly awarded to them in a festive
lunch in the Woolpack Inn afterwards.
For the rest of the afternoon our visitors wandered around the town and then all joined up in the Scrase home to celebrate the rest of the evening.
We were well blessed by some splendid food and the entertainment included a performance of the bagpipes: Stephanie is quite an expert at the playing
of these and our visitors had a go at the art of blowing.
They left on Sunday after much conversation and cordiality and the weekend was voted a great success by all who took part from the twin towns.
BEAUJOLAIS "BARN" DANCE - December 2006
We were searching around for a bright idea to have some sort of gathering in the autumn, when our projected meeting with the Winslow Association
went into demise. I came up with the crazy notion of celebrating the arrival of Beaujolais Nouveau 2006 by drinking the same whilst dancing the
night away with some sort of country dancing.
It duly took place on 1 December and over 50 enjoyed a most popular and successful event. Sue Kelly of U3A fame led us in the dancing at the Well Street Centre
and those that took part coped well with the instructions. We enjoyed refreshments of cheese and pâté, procured from the French Market which had come
to Buckingham the week before, though we had use English unsalted butter and TESCO baguettes.
I never found a source for the Nouveau in Buckingham and ended up purchasing it in Wimbledon. We provided both 2005 and 2006 vintages
for the Beaujolais and to our surprise we found little difference between the two.
FAMILY FUN BARBECUE - June 2006
Sunday lunchtime was the perfect timing for a fun day, which began with a pig roast. The whole event took place
in the beautiful setting of Clarissa House, Jane's home in Wappenham. At the gate the choice of main courses with drinks and pastries was greeted
with "oohs" and "aahs" and "what shall we have?". The pig was well roasted, the sausages griddled to a turn and the
quiches cried out to be savoured. Salads and fine wines complemented the meal perfectly.
An array of gazebos, tables with parasols and an arena bordered with hay bales, together with sideshows, a stilt walker, a trampoline,
unicyclists and jugglers exuded a festive air, which encouraged young and the not so young
to participate in the activities on offer. We were very happy to include a tombola and sale stall run by members of
A very popular activity turned out to be a crockery smash, run by Nick, the local postman. Person afer person went back over and over again
to have a go to demolish a fine array of crockery. However the teapot still stands for another day! Old fashioned
races, organised by Ron and Muriel Gleeson, were a great hit with children and adults alike. We were also lucky to have the martial arts
team, who performed an exemplary display of their sport. Many spectators were surprised at the exceptionally
high standard of disdcipline and coordination. We were warned "not to try this at home"!!
All in all a great day and many thanks to Jane for making it all possible.
MOUVAUX CIVIC VISIT NOVEMBER 2005
Now that hosts are getting to know Mouvaux friends better, the warmth of the welcome
as they stepped off their bus was really genuine. Newcomers to the Twinning experience
quickly caught the excitement and there began a truly happy weekend, sharing meals,
walks and interests while getting by in two languages.
Teenagers joined together for an
environment sortie along the Railway Walk followed by a discussion while other youngsters
took part in a karate class led by a national-level instructor and adults walked the town
to consider visitor perceptions.
The French group then hit the tourist trail to Oxford
where they enjoyed the Oxford Story buggies and marvelled at medieval colleges full of robed
graduates fresh from graduation (degrees in France come through the post!).
The party returned in time for the civic fireworks, the burning of Guy Fawkes (a very English affair!)
and a meal with hosts.
On Sunday the teenagers with their English counterparts spent the morning bowling at Xscape
(“very well organised!”) and eating “le fast-food”. Adults and hosts appreciated the slower
food of a superb civic lunch at the Community Centre, where gifts were exchanged and the French Mayor,
Patrick Balay, presented our chairman Jane Betts with a medal denoting the freedom of the town of Mouvaux,
in recognition of all her work for the Twinning process, a very high honour indeed.
It was a fitting end to a great weekend.