This year is rapidly reaching its midway point and the committee has been busy since the AGM organising the weekend of April 30th to the 3rd of May when we welcomed 25 visitors from Fougères. As usual we greeted our friends with afternoon tea and cakes at Willesborough Windmill. They arrived on schedule at the time expected, after a round of hugs and kisses all the hosts and guests were introduced, then our Chairman Gillian welcomed everyone formally and we were thanked for our hospitality by Daniel Bretel the French Chairman.

The first day was spent visiting Chartwell, the home of Sir Winston Churchill at Westerham. After some skilful driving and manoeuvring of the large French coach we arrived at 11.30. Lunch of traditional bangers and mash followed by apple crumble, was served in the Mulberry Restaurant. The followed a fascinating tour of the house and gardens. We were lucky to have a beautiful sunny day for our trip and the gardens were full of spring life, including black swans with cygnets swimming on the old swimming pool and a clutch of goslings on the lake. It certainly gave us all a glimpse into the life and home of such a great statesman.

Saturday was a free day to spend with the hosts and many people spent a relaxing day knowing that they would spend Sunday on their long journey home.

This was not the case with us and our guests. For the second time we had Marie Pierre and Charles Laine staying with us, accompanied by two of their grandsons, the younger brothers of the pair that had visited in 2013. As we knew that they were both keen on athletics Jack registered them for the Ashford Park Run which is a 5k run that takes place in Victoria Park every Saturday at 9am. Jack is a regular marshal at the event and made sure that the race director knew that there would be two French boys running. Before the race started the boys were welcomed to the event and photos were taken. As we looked on the boys were quickly round the first lap and heading for the finish line. The younger of the two boys eleven-year-old Elven, finished in an impressive time of 24.53 minutes and Gregory was not for behind with a time of 29.04 minutes.

On our return to Ashford we quickly got ourselves ready to go to the Croft Hotel for our evening meal.

The weekend was rapidly drawing to a close we all met on Saturday evening for a three-course meal. We were served with a pate starter, a choice of roast meats and vegetables at the carvery and fruit crumble for desert, followed by tea and coffee. The room was filled with friendly chatter in a mix of languages and at the end of the evening when our Chairman gave a short speech which was translated by Anne Button. We were informed that our visitors had to be at Willesborough at 7.45 the next morning for an 8am departure. All too soon we were meeting in the rain, luggage was stowed onto the coach and another round of hugs and kisses took place before we waved our friends off and they started their return journey.

Thank you to all our hosts and everyone who helped to make it an enjoyable weekend.

Written by Gillian Lines

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