Past Events in France
MOUVAUX MARCHÉ NÖEL - December 2016
Did we have any twinkling earrings? Was there any more tea? Those were some of the demands we faced as customers
converged on our stall. As ever, nearly everything we took to the Mouvaux Marché de Noel was snapped up by happy buyers.
A team, led and organised by chairman Stephanie Scrase, took a whole range of traditional Christmas fayre to the
Christmas market in Mouvaux on the first weekend of December.
Many thanks to helpers John Murray and Pat Phillips. Surrounded by other twinning friends, we shared and enjoyed
each other’s produce. The German gluhwein and Belgian home-made wine were especially appreciated, even though
it was at 10.00 in the morning. We also managed to run a rota so that we were able to go out and meet friends
in Mouvaux. I went to watch my host family's son play in a superb junior tennis competition and I popped into
a supermarket for a bit of Christmas shopping. So another lovely weekend and we made £280 profit. If you would
like to come next year, let us know - the team is already being planned!'
MOUVAUX MARCHÉ NÖEL - 5-7 December 2014
Christmas is coming in both Buckingham and Mouvaux. We sent a team of 4 elves to bring a taste of a traditional
English Christmas to our French friends in Mouvaux at their Christmas market on 6-8 December. Howard and
Jane Mordue, John Murray and Janet May were delighted to be caught in a rush of French customers when the market
opened at 6 on the Friday in the Mouvaux Town Hall.
By Saturday evening, it was pretty much a sell out! By Sunday lunchtime, everything went: Christmas puds,
cakes, mince pies and all things British – custard, marmalade and even commemoration mugs for the Queen’s
Jubilee, despite them being staunch republicans. We noted as a reminder for next year that we must take more
homemade cakes next year as they walked off the stall.
Pictured: Club Secretary Jane Mordue donned reindeer antlers to the amusement of youngsters in Mouvaux.
CIVIC VISIT to MOUVAUX - 26-28 September 2014
The main party left Buckingham in good spirits on the Friday at the early hour of 8.00 am. There were no hold-ups
so they reached the ferry terminal in good time. However they were forced to stop at a French Supermarket to pass
the time and to spend a few extra euros. because they were so early on the final lap to Lille. I and a few others
met them at the Mairie (the Town Hall) and we were given a welcome reception with drinks and nibbles. It was
certainly good to drink a glass of Belgium beer. We were then collected by our hosts and well entertained with dinner.
Our group of ACF cadets stayed at the Hautmont Centre in Mouvaux.
The next morning we were invited to witness the official opening of the L’Espace Bibliothèque, the town’s brand new
library building. After the customary speeches we were invited inside – it was quite a crush! What surprised me was
the high concentration of children’s literature and it did not have the range of books which I expected.
This library is part of a far-reaching new development in the centre of the town. I remember going to a presentation
some years ago to see and hear about the ambitious plans for development which were proposed. I found it interesting
to see how these were materialising. Dare I say it? – far more extensive than the Buckingham local authorities would
ever envisage, let alone actually achieve.
After lunch we went by coach to Arras. We walked around the town and marvelled at how it had been restored so
faithfully after the damage it suffered in the two world wars.
Arras was particularly important in the first world war
in that it was extremely close to the front line allied trenches. Later in the afternoon we were taken on a guided tour
of Carrière Wellington, now a museum but consisting of a network of tunnels which were dug out by British and
Commonwealth soldiers from an existing quarry.
At first I thought the purpose of these was to get soldiers behind the German lines. However we were informed that the
purpose was to get nearer the German trenches in the hope of surprising the Germans. For five days many thousands of
soldiers waited in the tunnels for the order to go up the specially designed shafts to charge the enemy. In the event
a diversionary move which was supposed to happen organised further down the lines failed to materialise and a very
large number of our troops were gunned down to die.
I found the whole thing horrifying and it quite took me back how awful this war had been combined by incompetence of
those in charge that caused so many to die for so little purpose. It was therefore appropriate that afterwards we
visited the British and Commonwealth war cemetery where we witnessed rows and rows of neat graves of those they managed
We were told that there were many more who were never found – these were commemorated on a massive wall
containing thousands of names.
We had a short remembrance service on our own led by the Rev Michael Greig.
The perfect rendering of the last post and reveille by the Lord Lieutenant’s bugler added movingly to the occasion.
The sun setting slowly to the horizon ended a poignant and very disturbing afternoon.
To commemorate the 100th anniversary since the outbreak of the First World War, on Sunday we took part in a military
parade through the town with a local French band leading the way. The British walked in silence but we were somewhat
surprised by the carnival attitude of some of the Mouvaux citizens. We eventually reached the Place de la Paix to take
part in a moving ceremony to commemorate and remember the Great War and the sacrifice made by the British and French
who fought in it. Wreathes were laid by the Royal British Legion and the Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Buckinghamshire as
well as the two mayors and other dignitaries.
As part of the ceremony an account was read out of the experiences of
a British and a French soldier in the 1914 – 1918 conflict:
Corporal Isham of Buckingham was born in 1899 and was the eldest of seven children. He worked with his father
as a painter and decorator. He enlisted in 1915 into the infantry and was part of his regiment at Loos, Pozieres,
Bapaume and finally in Arras in 1918, where he helped in the massive task of clearance of war debris at that time.
He was awarded the Military medal in 1919.
Jules Leplat, a 28 year old priest from Mouvaux enlisted as a sergeant in the 127th Infantry Regiment and was
rapidly promoted to CSM within a year. Jules had retreated with his company to just before the lines from Juvigny,
a little town of the Villiers la Fosse. This had been badly hit by the enemy and he was therefore anxious to get back
to the French lines. He was forced to move by night under heavy fire. He stated at the end of the war that he felt
ill-at-ease at being a soldier. The life was a mixture of emotion, extreme fear and adventure. He stated that
somehow one gets used to the continual shelling and the bullets overhead. He experienced heavy fighting near Beauséjour.
He had a lucky escape in that a shell broke his sword in half but missed his body. He did however witness the death
of most of his friends and the decimation of his platoon.
We ended our visit to Mouvaux with a splendid lunch in the Salle Durieux, another very new building in the centre
development. A PowerPoint presentation about Buckingham and its soldiers at the time of the Great War was shown
whilst we ate and then formal speeches and the exchange of gifts once again cemented our 12 years of twinning friendship.
MOUVAUX MARCHÉ NÖEL - 6-8 December 2013
On 6th December five of us visited Mouvaux to take part in their annual Chritmas Market. The organisation of this
event was undertaken by Margaret White, who worked tirelessly for some months beforehand. This involved
procurement of the produce and the recruitment of volunteers for the baking of the cakes. She then stored all the goods for sale together with the stall assemblage in her house and last but not least kept the “stall holders” in the picture. We are all very much in her debt for the successful outcome of the visit. The party of Jane, Howard, Sandra, Jan and I travelled in two cars from Buckingham and arrived to find ourselves parked next to an enormous van containing the stall and contents from our friendship town, Neukirchen-Vluyn. We ended up next door to each other in the town hall during the event so friendly exchanges ensued throughout the weekend.
We found we had two much for our allocated table so we had to borrow an extra one to accommodate all the goodies
that we had for sale. Best sellers turned out to be the cakes, mince pies, crackers, tea-bags, marmalade and
shortbread. We also sold two jars of Paul’s special mature tomato chutney (there is no explanation for French taste!).
The whole occasion was full of bonhomie with our old Mouvaux friends, the other stall-holders and our customers.
From time we were visited with samples of liqueurs and Sandra reciprocated by brewing English tea for our neighbours.
We all had the opportunity to explore the rest of the market which expended over a wide area outside the Town Hall.
The December weather behaved itself and this added to a hugely enjoyable visit. On Saturday we were treated by the
Mouvaux Twinning Committee to a most sumptuous informal buffet reception in the meeting hall next to the Church
of St Germain.
Howard, Jane and Sandra departed on Sunday afternoon leaving John and Jan to sell with a little discounting the remaining
stock. We then left Mouvaux on Monday morning taking the opportunity to turn off the road before the Channel Tunnel
to visit Grand Fort Philippe for lunch. This town has a very peaceful quayside with wide views of the sea and the shore
side. We ate at the very smart Café Hôtel Restaurant de L’Univers. I recommend that others returning from Mouvaux
on a future occasion might do this most pleasurable diversion before going onto the Tunnel.
MOUVAUX MARCHÉ NÖEL - 30 November-2 December 2012
Well another year over, but not before our annual trip to Mouvaux to partake once more in the Marché de Nöel. There
is always so much to be done beforehand which accompanies the constant thought as to “why are we doing this”?
Then we arrive at the Mairie which is situated on the wonderful tree lined Rue Franklin Roosevelt - and it all falls into place!
This year, the team consisting of David & Sheila Everson, Janet May and Sandra Truscott, John and I headed towards
Le Shuttle at the more civilised hour of 8 o’clock in the morning in time to catch the 12.20 pm train with not one,
but two car loads of varying commodities ranging from Christmas traditional fayre and an array of homemade cakes,
but not forgetting the ever popular flashing earrings and brooches! Unbelievably, we sailed down the M25 and onto
the M20 without a hitch on a gloriously cold, but sunny day in time for some refreshments and I am pleased to say
also that our journey the other side was without incident – no fog, no accidents and arriving at the Town Hall in
plenty of time to set up in readiness for the first rush of customers. And what a rush it was .... our goodies
were flying off the stall – to the point where we wondered whether we would have ample wares to last until Sunday
For fear of repeating myself, it is of constant amazement to us all the way we are taken into the bosom of the Mouvaillais
– their warmth to us as people and their interest in our stall never fails to surprise us.
On Saturday evening, once the doors had closed, the Mouvaux Twinning Committee invited the members of the three twinned
towns (Buckingham, Neukirchen-Vluyn and Halle) to a small drinks reception which was a very nice touch. Our three stalls
are totally different which adds to the variety of it all. The Germans bring along their infamous beer, glühwein and
sausage, plus other scrummy German goodies, whereas the Belgians home in on the most fantastic honey, sweets and natural
creams, lotions and potions. So all in all, our multi-cultural corner serves to be an interest to everyone!
It was a packed three days as for the first time we stayed until 5.00pm on Sunday afternoon whereas normally we were
heading our way home soon after lunch. We were told that Sundays were busy. It was true and people were certainly
disappointed when they found that the Christmas crackers had all gone or there were no more pots of marmalade.
As for next year - well who knows? It is definitely a “must” on the Buckingham Twinning Association calendar,
so plans will be put in place for it to all happen again next year – come what may!
RETURN 10th ANNIVERSARY CIVIC VISIT TO MOUVAUX 12-14 October 2012
The day dawned for our keenly awaited return 10th anniversary celebratory visit to Mouvaux. A large party went by
various routes to arrive in Mouvaux on Friday evening, where we were greeted in their town hall (Le Mairie) surrounded
by an impressive exhibition of photographs and pictures. We were handed our joining instructions and were given a warm
welcome by the Jumilage committee before being taken to the homes of our various hosts.
Saturday dawned cloudy and overcast. The programme included a range of activities for particular parts of our party.
Members from our two youth councils met in the town hall, where most of the time was taken up in tackling a quiz. A
planning meeting for the Dance Gala to be held in Buckingham in June also took place. The musicians rehearsed for
their evening performances in the Music School. The rest of us took the opportunity to see a little of Mouvaux.
Later that morning we all then travelled to the entrance to the new “Buckingham Car Park” which was to be inaugurated
by the two mayors. As we gathered, the rain just fell out of the sky and the whole ceremony took place under umbrellas
in the pouring rain.
The rain continued for the rest of the day but the youngsters still went to Lille to see the sights whilst the adults
supped, sipped and talked or ventured out in cars to view local sights. We had planned to walk in Roubaix but in the
end we were taken for a guided drive around Tourcoing.
The anniversary celebration took place in the grand surroundings of the Town Hall auditorium. We were treated to
recitals in song and clarinet by two young musicians from the Royal Latin School in Buckingham and to a lively piano
recital from a lad from Mouvaux. Speeches were made by the two mayors and 10th anniversary charter was duly signed.
We all then went off to celebrate to the Salle Bercker for a formal dinner in grand style. …. and grand it was. The
room had been magnificently decorated and all the people present had their own mini-charter pinned to the wall. The
evening started with a French band, Les Feles du Bocal”, who played suitable English music, whilst we drank an aperitif.
We then sat down to a lovely meal and conversation flowed in many languages. During the dessert we were then
entertained by the Ian Murray Duo from the stage. Everyone was enjoying it so much that nobody wanted to leave. It was
nice to see that so many people wandering between the tables giving a boost to the conviviality.
On Sunday the rain had stopped. We were then taken on a walk along the Boulevard, where as a celebration of the 10 years
there was a series of photographs of sites and activities of Buckingham 2012 along the side of the road. It was a lovely
idea and we admired the unusual nature of showing the pictures in this way.
After another splendid lunch we were sent on our way home once again with warm memories of a happy encounter between
TWINNING JUNIOR FOOTBALL TOURNAMENT - 26-27 May 2012
Over the Weekend of 26th 27th May, Moretonville Junior Football Club were proud to represent the Town of Buckingham in the Annual Junior football
tournament, which this year was hosted in Mouvaux, France and took part at the Stade Patrick Balaÿ.
Two teams travelled which were made up of under 14 and 15 players. They faced a tough task from outset as the majority of the two sides were made
up of the younger age. The competition included sides from the host Town and from Buckingham’s other link Town of Neukirchen Vlyun, along with
a side from Paris (who included players who were 6ft 6 and 6 ft 4 in an U15 tournament !!!) and 15 other local sides.
The competition was spread over 2 days, with teams split into 5 groups of 4 teams. Team 1 competed in Group D with Team 2 in Group B. On the first
day each side played 3 very competitive games. Despite some great individual and team performances, neither side managed a win, but were never
outclassed and put in 3 battling performances each.
However, fortunes were to turn on the Sunday with Team 1 managing to pull off some great wins, including a penalty shoot out victory in their
penultimate game, resulting in the side finishing 9th, Team 2 also managed to go on and grab a win which meant they came 16th..
Overall, the weekend was deemed a huge success with the French organisers putting on an extremely slick and well organised event and now our
thoughts start to look forward to 2013 where Buckingham are due to host what is now a fixture in the local football calendar.
JOINT WALK - 30 March - 2 April 2012
Once again, it was our turn to cross the Channel to France, but on this occasion, we would be staying with French hosts in our twin Town of Mouvaux.
We were promised a Saturday afternoon walk in the Mouvaux area and a much longer day walk on the Sunday, in the neighbouring country of Belgium.
We were just 8 in number, Geoff and Valerie Shaw, Derek Carpenter and Peter Brooks travelling to France by Eurostar on the Friday; a day later,
David and Sheila Everson followed by road and ferry and John and Margaret White by road but using Le Shuttle and the Channel Tunnel.
Saturday was cool with intermittent sun, but everybody was suitably attired when they met at 14.30 outside Saint Germain Church in Mouvaux.
It was to be a ‘there and back’ walk but first we had to pass through Mouvaux’s delightful Parc Public du Hautmont. Our destination was
Le Village des Metiers d’Art and Le Chateau et Parc du Vert-Bois which were to be found in 60 acres of parkland. In the craft village
there were over 20 Artisan and Merchant establishments which we were able to visit and also a café and restaurant. It was in the Parkland
that we spotted numerous sculptures and the Chateau surrounded by a number of moats.
In the evening the Buckingham Walkers and Hosts and several members of the Jumelage Committee met in La Salle Malraux near to the Church,
where a very appetising buffet had been prepared with plenty of wine. It truly was an unforgettable evening and a delightful way to end the day.
Sunday, we regrouped in the Hotel de Ville Car Park at 09.00. The sky was blue and there had been an overnight frost, but the weather forecast
promised a bright sunny day and warmer than 24 hours earlier. We all climbed into sufficient cars to take everybody over the France / Belgium
border and on to the hilltop village of le Mont Saint Aubert, 149 metres high and 4 miles to the north of Tournai. The car park was alongside
the Church and nearly at the highest part of the village. Hence when the morning part of the figure of eight walk got underway, it was downhill
all the way, before climbing back up the hill by a different route.
This included the Path of the Poets, a paved trail dotted with blue stones
showing the epigraphs of poets and writers. The path now has some 50 citations. After the pause for our picnic at the Floreal Club where
we were allowed to eat our food inside the Bar area, a similar walk to that in the morning took place on the other side of the hill. The day’s
activities ended on the Floreal Club Terrace sitting in warm sunshine having a very welcome drink and enjoying more panoramic views of the nearby
John and Margaret White then had to say farewell, and reluctantly commence their return journey home, whereas, the rest of the Buckingham party
made their way back to Mouvaux for eats etc with their hosts, and to pack their bags in readiness for their Monday departures back to England.
The Eurostar group stayed the whole of Monday in Lille and they therefore had the time to enjoy a return visit to Les Trois Brasseurs, where the
group had a most cordial lunch with the Ducats who hosted Peter over the weekend. The local beers, brewed on the premises were suitably sampled.
The next joint walk will take place in March-April, 2013, but this time on English soil in the Dover area, as in previous years. If you feel you
would like to join the 2013 party, please give David or Sheila Everson a call on 01280 812296, when further information will be forwarded to you
towards the end of the year.
PATRICK BALAŸ – funeral 17 February 2012.
We were saddened to hear of the death of Patrick Balaÿ on 13 February 2012. He had been a good friend to the Twinning Association and actively
encouraged all our links with Mouvaux during his term as Mayor of Mouvaux from 1996-2008.
He was born in Lyon. Following his education in France, he spent two years at a US business school before entering a successful career in textiles.
He has always had a passion for all sports of sport and therefore it was not surprising that he was instrumental in the setting up of the Pierre
de Cauberton Sports Centre in Mouvaux. He was a cultured man and he was a prime motivator for the annual series of concerts under the banner of
Mouvaux en Concert.
As Mayor he will be mostly remembered for his inspiration in the ideas for re-structuring the centre of the town, facing up top the inevitable
criticism and stubbornness of the sceptics. He was very much involved also in arranging to provide affordable rented housing and in the process
was active in supporting the very young and the handicapped.
His enthusiasm for modernity and his open-minded attitude to Europe led to his active involvement in the activities of the three twin towns of
Buckingham, Neukirchan-Vluyn and Halle. In this he took a great personal interest in the setting up of our twinning arrangement in 2002.
We now even have a Résidence Buckingham in Mouvaux.
He spoke German and English fluently which made exchanges much easier (he was the only one in the town hall who could pronounce Neukirchen-Vlyun
correctly!). He found that he was a great admirer of Churchill and we found him good in company and interesting and varied conversation, where
he was well versed in the European political scene.
Jane and Howard Mordue with John Murray represented the Twinning Association at his funeral Mass, which turned out to be a grand affair with
orchestra, organ and a solo soprano. Over 600 people attended the event.
We remember him with great affection. We will miss him a lot.
MOUVAUX CHRISTMAS MARKET 2-4 December 2011
An early start saw David and Sheila Everson, Sandra Truscott, Janet May and John and I headed off to Dover with a car load of goodies to take to the Mouvaux Weekend Christmas Market.
I am glad to say that this time there was no snow, no fog and no traffic accidents and apart from the slight jiggling of the ferry due to Sea France having “operational difficulties”, we arrived in good time to set up our stall in readiness for the Friday evening rush. The Market takes place in the Town Hall and whilst we are situated inside, you will also find lots of Chalet style stalls on the outside with goods ranging from sausage and decorative hyacinths to hats, sweets and wooden toys. When it gets dark, it becomes very festive as the Christmas lights brighten up the whole area.
Once again, the people of Mouvaux were generous in their welcome and we were inundated with people wishing to taste the homemade cakes that were in abundance this year. We decided to ring the changes slightly and so we went armed not only with the “favourites” but also Ginger Cake, Chocolate Fudge Cake, Date and Orange Cake and Apricot and Walnut loaf, to name but a few. Having made the mistake last year of not including the Christmas cake, we also took with us 12 small and 2 large cakes – all of which were sold.
Saturday started slowly and the weather was drab, but by mid afternoon, the rush started again and bit by bit the table started to empty and hey ho, by Sunday we were left with just a few items to sell. – I think the final count left us with 3 tins of baked beans and 3 cartons of custard!
So a success I think – a big thank you to Sandra and Janet, particularly for their linguistic skills and to David and Sheila who, after a well earned rest, decided to come back to the fold. It was good to have them on board again. A mention of thanks must also be made to Rosie and Clive Cowdy and to Vanessa Bloomfield, all of whom provided a number of homemade cakes and jams. David, Sheila and Sandra also bought their home-baking skills to the fore, which enabled us to go laden with some wonderful cakes and mince pies. So what with all the cakes, Christmas crackers and novelties, baked beans, Christmas puddings, Tea and the like, we certainly had a very full stall.
Our hosts were excellent and vouchers for the little restaurant (Courte Paille) were most welcome. As the year before, having sold all our goodies, we enjoyed a relaxing lunch on Sunday with our neighbouring German and Belgian stall holders before heading back to Dunkirk for our ferry home.
If we can manage to cover our costs, that’s great; if we can make a small profit, that’s even better, but the most important thing is to be involved in something quite different and interesting.
20th ANNIVERSARY OF TWINNING OF MOUVAUX and NEUKIRCHEN-VLUYN
2 Mayors and 4 past mayors, plus the twinning leads for Mouvaux, Neukirchen Vluyn and Buckingham gave it their best puff, to celebrate 20 years of twinning between the French and German towns on 29 October 2011 in Mouvaux. Buckingham was represented by Howard and Jane Mordue. Our Mayor sent his best wishes.
The day’s celebrations had begun at lunchtime with the arrival of the German delegation, some 15 strong, and lunch at a local restaurant. A post prandial stroll up the main thoroughfare, the Grand Boulevard, followed to view some 30 photographs of Neukirchen-Vluyn erected on large panels up and down the cycling and jogging path.
The group then moved to the main shopping street in Mouvaux, the ‘rue Franklin Roosevelt’, where the Mayor of Neukirchen-Vluyn (Harald Lenssen) was invited to join the Mayor of Mouvaux, (Eric Durand) and other dignitaries to cut the ribbon on the newly named, ‘Espace Neukirchen-Vluyn’, a smartly refurbished car parking area right by the shops.
After speeches there was a short break in the programme before the next event, the opening of an exhibition of twinning photographs and memorabilia at 17h in the Town Hall. This naturally focussed on the Franco-German link but also featured, in glass cases, every gift presented by the town of Buckingham over the past 9 years – a true journey down memory lane!
The guests were then directed through to the music school for an official re-signing of the charter ceremony, followed by a short concert on piano of two German pieces of music.
After a short gap we were treated to a very tasty cold buffet with the guests being entertained by magicians at table. Birthday greetings and gifts were exchanged with a ceremonial blowing-out of the Christmas cake by all the present and past mayors. After this, it was time to listen and dance to the German band, ‘Do It Again’ until well gone midnight.
Jane and Howard Mordue
SEPTEMBER TRIP 2011
On a fine morning at the end of September, Mike and Ginny Booth, Janet May and Susan Ellis squeezed into John Murray’s car, and set off for Dover for our trip to Mouvaux, where we were greeted by Annie Millicamps, and our hosts Cristelle Glorieux, Renata Boitot, Brigette and André Frys and Hubert and Mathilde Devriendt.
The next morning we went by tram to Lille and boarded a small tour coach for a guided visit of the city. We continued our visit on foot, during which time we took in a lunch at an outside table at a restaurant. There was so much of interest to see, and the sun was scorching down. One of the highlights was a visit to the Cathédrale
Notre-Dame de la Treille. Although it is constructed in a neo gothic style it only dates from the middle of the Nineteenth century. The front is faced with marble, and from inside, it is transparent and beautifully veined. One day in Lille is not enough!
The following day we went by car to the small and pretty town of Wambrechies. We had a tour of the ancient distillery and saw the old mills, stills and machinery still used for making alcoholic liquor. Naturally, a tasting followed. The town is dominated by its old château with its peaceful park, the quayside of the Deûle canal which is crowded with colourful boats, and the buildings of Flemish architecture.
In the meantime, Mike and Ginny had been invited to speak to students and teachers at a local school in Mouvaux. They were thus able to give a useful report to the Twinning Committee when we arrived back home. We met up with Mike and Ginny at the house of Annie at midday. Annie treated us to a splendid luncheon, with bubbly and wine.
In the afternoon we motored to Roubaix. The first visit there was to the Museum – Workshop of Textiles. The guide gave working demonstrations of the looms, ranging from old, wooden machines, to the latest computer-controlled machines. Roubaix of course was at the centre of the French weaving trade, and examples of its work were displayed in the next museum that we visited. This was the famous Swimming Pool Museum. The construction of the pool was completed in 1932, and was described as the most beautiful Swimming pool in the whole of France. It is world famous, and, now enlarged, is a magnificent art gallery. Our day concluded in the evening with a Soirée in the church hall. With much joviality we enjoyed a buffet in the company of our hosts and members of the Twinning Committee.
We left for home on the Friday morning. We all agreed that we were sad to be leaving, having enjoyed ourselves so much, and been received and treated so well.
GALA DANCE WEEKEND MAY 2011
French hospitality reached new heights for 11 square dancers from the area when they were invited to participate in a dance gala in Buckingham’s twin town Mouvaux. The event, to celebrate 50 years of dancing, was organised by a dance school, whose members accommodated, dined and entertained the group for the weekend with such friendly enthusiasm that 11 more Francophiles were created.
Buckingham also made its mark on Mouvaux’ citizens: the audience joined in lustily with the “call” song “ I just called to say I love you”, afterwards warmly greeting dancers with broad smiles, shaking hands and of course lots of kisses on cheeks. A great weekend for l’Entente Cordiale.
MOUVAUX CHRISTMAS MARKET 2010
To follow in the footsteps of Ron, Muriel, David, Sheila, Clive and Rosie was always going to be difficult. They had been the stalwarts of the Mouvaux Christmas market for many years and quite rightly they deserved a well earned rest and to let someone else have a turn!
So, after much deliberation, a team was pulled together of myself, husband John, Howard and Jane Mordue, Jill Martin, Sandra Truscott and Janet May.
Meetings were held, goods were purchased, cakes were made and with the generous on-going support of all the past team, we were ready to head off to Mouvaux. Winter, however, decided to give us an early call and snow fell in abundance during the days preceding our departure, to the point of thinking whether we would actually be able to make the trip at all, but depart we did and we managed to make our way to Dover on a very cold, frosty and snowy December morn. All was going well..... Calais greeted us with sunshine and we were feeling quite smug! Unfortunately sunshine turned into pea soup approximately 40 minutes from Mouvaux and as a result we found ourselves on the end of a horrendous traffic jam which in turn meant that our idea of arriving at our destination in ample time was well and truly thwarted with us finally arriving well after 5.00 pm! Not an ideal start. Nevertheless, with the market in full swing the ‘new kids’ on the block were welcomed with open arms and with all hands on deck, our stall was soon up and running and we were receiving our first customers. It was quite chaotic, there was little time to think, but we got through the remaining hour and a half without too much damage to our reputation! Saturday morning a deluge of snow fell, but it didn’t stop the people of Mouvaux making their way to the market once more.
We were a new team, (although I believe Howard and Jane had taken part in the market many years before) and to be honest didn’t really know one another. It could have been disastrous – either too many “wannabe” chiefs and not enough Indians, or even too many Indians and no chief at all! We needn’t have worried as everyone rallied round tremendously and got on with the job in hand. It was busy, yes, but (dare I say it?) a rather fun way to spend a weekend! Our host families were lovely and the people of Mouvaux made us feel very at ease and at home.
I would like to thank everyone for their help and team spirit. We had some excellent linguists amongst us. Unfortunately, Jill Martin had to pull out from actually attending the market, but a BIG THANK YOU must go to her not only because of the warm welcome she gave us into her flat for the meetings but she was also such a great help with both the gathering of goods and the making of some of the cakes - her general enthusiasm was very catching! The guidance of Ron and Muriel was much appreciated and it was very kind of David, Sheila, Clive and Rosie to continue to make the mince pies and flapjacks.
So, will we be doing it in 2011? Well at the moment, we have all decided we would, but if there is anyone else out there who wants to have a go, please get in touch. Equally, we would be pleased to hear from anyone who would like to donate any homemade goods. Julia Randall made some yummy Crab Apple Jelly which went down a treat and as always the homemade cakes were also very popular.
Finally, on a personal note I must thank hubby John – this was never going to be his “thing”, but he was an excellent driver and gofer and proved a great support to me. The aim was to go, sell everything and come home. Well, we did that and yes, some mistakes were made, but what we didn’t really bargain on was getting to know and enjoy the company of some very nice people indeed. Sheila Everson kept saying we would enjoy the experience and you know .....we did!
JOINT WALK AT MONTREUIL-SUR-MER 2010
This year it was our turn to cross the channel so eleven intrepid travellers in three cars left Buckingham on Saturday morning 26 June to travel to France via the ferry from Dover to Calais. The planned walk proved to be further away than usual so it was over an hour before we reached Berck on the Normandy coast. This is a town that reminded me of Margate and it seemed that it survived on sales of ice-cream, because as we walked along the promenade everybody seemed to be either buying one or eating one. The sea was far far away. Some the group walked to it to have a paddle: to see them I had to use a telescope! The weather was hot so we were glad to find a friendly restaurant for a most pleasant meal.
After a noisy breakfast amongst hundreds of kids we made our way to Montreuil-sur-Mer to meet our hosts, some 10 km away. “Sur-Mer?” - no sign of the sea but we were assured that in the past it was there: it must have been yonks ago. A stroll round the town was a delight at that time of the morning in that it revealed a charming place, quite different from the awfulness of Berck, characterised by little shops, cobbled streets and a magnificent surrounding protective set of battlements which circled the town.
A large coach arrived and out spilled some forty walkers from Mouvaux kitted out with an array of haversacks and provisions.
We had been told that the walk would be some 20 km so I was most relieved to find that it was 18 km in a figure of eight
producing two stints morning and afternoon of 9 km each with refreshment in the town.
After a multitude of greetings and a plethora of instructions we set off at a cracking pace. By this time the day was hotting up and it really was very warm for me: I struggled towards the end to make the distance (and that was only the first stint!). We were expertly shepherded by marshals in florescent jackets and whistles: care and encouragement was readily given to those who lagged behind. Much chatter ensued both in fluent and pidgin French.
They had arranged for a local café to give us drinks at their expense: I enjoyed a nice cold bière pression and we ate our sandwiches. I and a few others decided to back out of the second 9 km and off they went. I gather from reports that without us laggers the rate quickened to a startling pace. I had a walk round the town and then came back to the café to enjoy another bière and to watch Germany demolish England in the World Cup.
On the return of the main party, warm exchanges were made and they were soon off for their return journey to Mouvaux. After a long cold shower we retired to another café in Berck and certainly in my case, very tired, we went to bed. The whole trip was once again a great success. We express many thanks to Sheila and David Everson who efficiently made all the arrangements our end without a hitch. We look forward to the return walk our side next year. We hope that we can get back to the Spring for all sorts of reasons not least that it can be done in slightly cooler weather.
CULTURAL VISIT TO MOUVAUX and LILLE APRIL 2010
John Murray organised a special trip to Mouvaux and Lille for a select few (Howard and Jane Mordue, Mike and Christine Kirby and Derek Carpenter) over three days in April. On arrival after travelling in two cars by the ferry they were kindly generously hosted on the first evening by our twinning friends and were fed and watered most generously. The weather was warm and sunny.
On the second day they took the tramway from Mouvaux to Lille and then went on a bus tour of the city, with video and commentary. Annie then took them on a walking
tour of the old town with a meal at a quaint restaurant. This was followed by a fascinating visit to the Palais des Beaux Arts.
On the third day they motored to Wambrechies and visited the Claeyssens distillery. After partaking of suitable samples, they happily adjourned to the home of our guide, Annie, where they were treated to a splendid luncheon. Later in the afternoon they had extremely interesting visits
to museums in Roubaix - The Jacquard museum of weaving looms, and the art
museum in the refurbished art deco swimming pool. In the evening they attended a party with host families and members of the Mouvaux Twinning Committee.
On the way back to England, I gather that they diverted to Grand-Fort-Phillip, which I expect involved a visit to a hypermarket. They also enjoyed an excellent lunch in a local restaurant.
TWINNING FOOTBALL TOURNAMENT MAY 2009
Two teams from Moretonville Junior Football Club went to Mouvaux 29-31 May 2009 to take part in a football tournament covering the towns linked to Mouvaux.
It was played at Parc Sportif, Pierre de Coubertin in Mouvaux. Joining Moretonville were teams from Mouvaux, Tourcoing, Halle in Belgium and Neukirchen-Vluyn in Germany.
Moretonville were delighted to be sponsored with new shirts provided by the Whiteleaf Business Centre and were supported by an enthusiastic group of parents and friends.
In a tournament played to a high “academy” standard, the two Moretonville sides finished a creditable eighth and tenth out of a total of sixteen teams.
Mark Chapman from Buckingham and Berni Russell from Mouvaux put in in a lot of hard work in the planning involved in getting right the logistics of the operation
and it was deemed a great success for all involved. So much so that plans are already in hand for a repeat in 2010 and it is hoped that it will be held in
Buckingham in the future.
TWINNING WEEKEND in MOUVAUX 3-5 April 2009
Once again it was our turn to visit Mouvaux. We were not disappointed by the tremendous hospitality we received and we came away with happy memories.
The weather was a little chilly but sunny so we could take advantage of the longer evenings (courtesy of the sensible use of the French of Summer time!).
The main party went by coach.
Valerie and I spent a few days before in Mid-France and we all met the English party at the Mairie. There was a formal welcome in the Foyer and we received
some welcome refreshment. We were all taken to our respective hosts for dinner on Friday evening.
On Saturday morning we were split five ways:
- Most of the adults were given a choice of a visit to Parc du Haumont or a wine tasting at the cellars of Monsieur Vin. I gather that those
who went to the Parc enjoyed a pretty visit but, as I have walked round it a few times now, you will not be surprised to hear that I went to taste some
wines at the unearthly hour of 9.30 am in the morning. Our guide there was extremely knowledgeable and absolutely fascinating. He explained each wine
in detail. We received generous portions and we also enjoyed samples of local cheese. From my point of view it was a very civilised way to start the visit.
- Students from Buckingham School joined Mouvaux students to discuss the relative merits of each town under the title "My Town too". Reports received indicated that it went very well and we were pleased to hear two excellent summaries by representatives from each side at the following luncheon.
- A group of karate students, who train at Tingewick, Steeple Claydon, Twyford and Evenley, trained and watched demonstrations in their sport. Both sides
noted the similarities and differences in the methods and training and discussions took place for a further exchange in Buckingham.
- Chris Phillips, who is a keen roller-blader, took the brave step of joining in with many much younger people in a wide-ranging display and exhibition
of roller-blading. We await to see the picture of him beside that girl in the ballerina dress!
- Two Brownies and their families will not easily forget the rapturous welcome they had from their counterparts in France, the Jeannettes and their leaders.
Badged yellow tops met badged orange shirts with wild embraces and excited giggles (language is not so important for 10-year olds) and games with dice
and chocolate and silly songs with actions can be enjoyed the world over. A wide game (something to do with capturing pirate ships) was played with great gusto on the green, the outcome being a fervent promise to repeat the fun another year, next time in Buckingham?
On Saturday afternoon, after a most convivial lunch provided by the Mouvaux Committee, the youngsters went to Bellewarde Adventure Playground while
the adults were taken to Ypres in Belgium. We were astounded to learn that the whole town had been flattened by mortar fire in the First World War.
What was even more amazing was the decision to rebuild the town exactly as it was: so much so that many of the houses look as though they were built
100s of years earlier. We were taken for a tour of the town by a local guide, who spoke in both French and English moving from language to language
with ease – most humbling! Our visit coincided with a town festival and we have recorded the wonderful site of John Murray trying to communicate with
some travellers from outer space.
In the evening we were cordially entertained in the homes of their hosts. In our case we were presented with the most magnificent hors d'oeuvres
I have ever seen – each part was in its own individual glass. The meal continued like it did in many other homes with good food, animated conversation
in both English and French and of course plenty to drink.
On Sunday morning we were taken to St Omer, which is built on a network of canals with the feel of the Norfolk Broads. After an enjoyable trip on
a boat we were generously given an excellent meal at Estaminet Clairmarais.
The English party went off by coach but Valerie and I lingered for another day in Lille.
The French certainly know how to eat and drink! - it's wonderful - we have much to learn in this respect. Good food, good wine and good company should
not be rushed.
50th ANNIVERSARY OF JUMELAGE MOUVAUX-HALLE
Buckingham has only been twinned with Mouvaux for just over 5 years but way back in 1958, in the aftermath of the Second World War,
their first international link was established with Halle, a small Belgian market town. It was started based on personal contacts
between some of the sporting clubs and has endured over the years. On 18th October 2008, Mouvaux invited their other twin towns,
Buckingham and Neukirchen Vluyn to join in the celebrations. Thus it was that on a bright but cold Saturday morning, the Mayors
of 4 European towns walked shoulder to shoulder at the head of a procession around the streets of Mouvaux.
To make sure that the populace noticed, the Belgians brought ‘les Gilles’ with them.
With their strange costumes and outrageous headgear and clogs, and accompanied by incessant drumming and strange cries, the troupe
really brought Mouvaux alive. But why did the Mayor and Mayoress have to dance holding an orange each? All very strange. The day
continued with a friendly bowling competition between the sexes in the Mouvaux indoor bowling alleys, or ‘bourloires’ where
we were taught to throw heavy flat sided bowls, or cheeses. It was never going to be an elegant sight….
There was an official opening of a play area in the town, named after Halle, followed by a formal re-signing of the charter
and a short classical music performance in Mouvaux’s music conservatoire. A gala dinner rounded off the occasion in great style.
It was good to make friends with Mouvaux’s Belgian and German friends and it was a wonderful occasion to remember.
JOINT WALK AT CALAIS
Those intrepid walkers, David and Sheila Everson decided to arrange with our Mouvaux French friends a joint day walk along the cliffs of Calais. Valerie and I
decided to join them but I certainly hesitated when I heard that it was going to be over 10 miles! However on Saturday 29th March Valerie and I took the train to meet the rest
of our walking party in a hostelry on the outskirts of Dover. After a convivial meal, where we managed to sign up some new members for the Twinning Association,
we retired to bed with the thought that we would only have a few hours sleep before an early departure at 5.00 am to catch the ferry from Dover.
Our group of twelve duly met up with a full coachload of French walkers looking frightenly well equipped for a long trek and after many exchanges and a long wait
for some of their group who had come by car we set off.
It soon rained. It rained and rained. It rained and rained some more. With a bad foot I chickened out after a few miles and went back to get some soup and to
attempt to dry out at a local café. I met a very exhausted party later that afternoon, when the rain did stop at last.
All agreed however that it had been a memorable day's walking and the English party left to catch the ferry to England. I found that I was too tired to eat much on
the boat but the more experienced tucked into some P&O fare. We slept well that night. Valerie and I left to catch the train home but the rest of the English party
had enough energy to do another walk on the way back.
Would I do it again? Perhaps. I need to be fitter and I am not used to the long distances which seem to be the norm. However its a great way to keep the exchange going.
MOUVAUX MARCHÉ NOËL 2007
Christmas markets are a great tradition in France and many of the bigger towns like Lille attract great numbers of tourists. The one in Mouvaux is planned on a
smaller scale as befits the size of the town but it compensates by having a lovely friendly atmosphere, where friends can meet once a year in the festive season.
Our stall is inside the Old Town Hall together with those from their other twin towns from Belgium and Germany and a lively convivial time is had by all.
Experience has taught us the type of produce the French expect from us so we came suitably armed with those products
that either do not exist or hard to find in France such as home made Christmas cakes, mince pies, crackers (what fun it was explaining them to the French!),
puddings, bara brith, Oxford marmalade, puddings and tea. It is always a pleasure to see familiar faces coming back year after year to buy goods not readily available
in a place like Mouvaux and this year we were sold out early on the Sunday.
As always we enjoyed wonderful hospitality from our hosts and a lively convivial time was had by all. Our sincere thanks go to those who provided home-made food for sale.
We mention particularly the contributions from Jill Farrell for her wonderful Christmas cakes, Sheila Everson, who is our mince pie queen, and Len Davies for providing
little bits of Wales with the Bara Brith and Lancashire with his Eccles cakes.
TWIN TOWN COMPETITION April 2007
The Mouvaux Twinning Committee had the innovative idea to invite their three twin towns from England, Belgium and Germany to submit photographs to be displayed in the Mairie during April.
The Buckingham Photographic Club took up the challenge and we were privileged to see the results during our visit during the twinning weekend. The standard was very high and we are
pleased to announce that Buckingham won four prizes out of the five that were on offer. The whole idea was so successful that it is planned to extend this to
include a junior competition next year.
TWINNING WEEKEND in MOUVAUX 13-15 April 2007
It was our turn to visit Mouvaux - an eagerly awaited treat for those who had been before and an exciting venture for those who hadn't.
Once again we were not disappointed by the tremendous hospitality we received and we came away with happy memories. In previous years we have visited there in the Autumn: for
various reasons this was changed to the Spring and the advantages of warmer weather and longer evenings (courtesy of the sensible use of the French of Summer time!) became
The main party went by coach.
Valerie and I went the day before by Eurostar and we all met the English party at the Mairie. Introductions were made in the hall opposite and then we were all taken to our hosts for a welcome meal and exchange of ideas on Friday evening.
On Saturday morning we were split four ways:
- Members of the Buckingham Business Club were given a most interesting and informative presentation on plans for a comprehensive redevelopment planned for Mouvaux town
centre. The enthusiasm of the Mayor was evident and I found him exciting to listen to. In his case we were given a superb example of how one can get ideas to germinate
with a mission to succeed. I could not help thinking how frustrating it has become sitting on a committee of the Buckingham Community Plan where idea after idea
has been ignored by our local councils. We were then taken to see the area actually on the ground and as, we ran out of time, Valerie and I later walked round the perimeter
of the site to clarify in our minds what was envisaged. Oh for the vision of Mouvaux!
- Students from the Royal Latin School and Buckingham School were taken to a farm nature reserve at Wasquehal where they worked in pairs with pupils from College Mivan der Meersch to observe the wild life.
Much use of the respective languages was required to communicate the results and liguistic skills were rather stretched at times. However it is heartening to hear a comment
from the Principal to say that he had been impressed by the linguistic abilities of all the students who took part in these exchanges.
- A group of karate students, who train at Tingewick, Steeple Claydon, Twyford and Evenley, trained and watched demonstrations in their sport. Both sides
noted the similarities and differences in the methods and training and discussions took place for a further exchange in Buckingham.
- A small group played tennis in the impressive sports hall. The remainder of the party relaxed with their hosts at home: we heard that one member of our party
had a particularly late petit dejeuner!
After a most convivial lunch provided by the Mouvaux Committe, on Saturday afternoon the younger elements of the party went to explore Lille while the others went to Wambrechies
to visit a fascinating toy museum containing a very full collection of toys, dolls, games and models: Paddy Collins and I amused ourselves competing against
each other in the games section. We were then taken for a tour of the local distillery. The highlight of the latter of course was the final tasting of the varieties of gin,
liquers and whiskies. In the evening most were entertained royally in the homes of their hosts
In the evening most were entertained royally in the homes of their hosts. On a hot and balmy evening in our case we sat out
on a patio looking out on a lovely garden complete with good food, company and wine.
On Sunday morning the younger members went ten-pin bowling in Lomme and the older contingent witnessed a ceremonial planting of an Oak tree in the gardens of the
Mairie. The task was underaken by the two mayors and Jane and Berni all grappling with the one spade and some English soil brought over for the occasion. This marked
the 5th anniversary of our twinning and the celebrations continued over a delicious civic lunch where gifts were exchanged and Berni ended up as a Friend of Buckingham. We
were delighted to have the presence of the British Consul on this occasion.
The English party went off by coach but Valerie and I lingered for another day in Lille.
The French certainly know how to eat and drink! - it's wonderful - we have much to learn in this respect. Good food, good wine and good company should not be rushed.
WALK - OYE PLAGE 11 JUNE 2006
Valerie and I took the Eurostar to Brussels on Thursday 8 June to spend a day or two with friends there
before coming back to Mouvaux on the Saturday. We were very well looked after by Berni and Helene Russell
for our stay there.
Boy - was it hot. We therefore with a little trepidation travelled with Berni to meet a group of walkers for lunch by the sea. A large group of 26 walkers gave us a warm (literally!) welcome and we joined them for lunch before walking the length of a massively long beach with hardly a French soul on it. The sea was somewhere in the distance. It was claimed that we could see Dover but I was not convinced: we did see quite a few ferries however. We coped - just and arrived at a cafe for a very welcome glass of biere.
We finally ended up in a village where there was the inevitable noisy summer town street fair. Two sets of dodgems but not an ice-cream in sight. The walkers are keen to maintain the link and are getting quite excited about a possible day trip to the Dover cliffs for a joint walk in the Spring of 2007.
I slept well that night! - before leaving by Eurostar on Monday morning.