Shelford Twinning Association
Visit to Verneule-en-Halatte 1-4 June 2023
It was so nice to be part of the group to visit Verneuil-en-Halatte for the first time since 2019 and see our French friends again. This was only the second twinning trip for our family.
In 2019 we decided to join the twinning visit to Verneuil for the first time to experience life with a French family and learn a bit of French. I’d never studied French at school and I could only understand a bit but this didn’t stop me engaging with our French hosts.
The hospitality of our host families was amazing – they really made our stay both times a beautiful experience. Both times we were very lucky to be paired with families with children of similar ages to ours.
During the visit everything is organised for us by the amazing Twinning committees in Shelford and Verneuil. The twinning visits are so relaxing and they are full of great activities organised for us … we just have to be ready at the right time.
This year the French organised a visit to a nearby village and abbey where we had a very interesting guided tour of both places. The children went to the local school in the morning before joining us at the abbey with the French school. It was lovely to see them play and have fun with the other French and British children.
At the end of the day, the French committee surprised us with a crêpe at a local café before we met our host families later in the day.
On Saturday, as well as Sunday morning, we ha time with had a lovely time with our host family … we played board games, had a lot of sunshine in the garden, visited the beautiful Chantilly castle, and even went to their daughter’s communion on Sunday morning.
We are looking forward to seeing them again when they come to Shelford 8-11th July and also when we go back to Verneuil in May 2023.
We have found the experience of Twinning such an enriching and fun experience and we are so lucky to have it in our village.
Shelford Twinning Association
Visit to Verneuil-en-Halatte 1-4 June 2023
I have visited Verneuil many times since the early ‘90s, always staying with the same couple. I love going there and I love staying with them, especially Danielle’s cooking. I also like their sense of humour and it gives me an opportunity to practise my French. Jean-Pierre has been on the Comité de Jumelage for many years and has helped to cement Verneuil’s relationship with the Shelfords. My daughter got to know another family with whom she stayed several years running, attending Calmette primary school and joining in the activities.
This time, after a gap of 4 years, I was excited to return as part of a group of 32 adults and children. Our coach left from Great Shelford Memorial Hall at 8am and we reached Dover without any delays, having time for a coffee break before joining the ferry.
At passport control we all got out of the coach to have our passports stamped. Once on the ferry we dispersed, the children remaining with their parents or responsible adult. To our surprise we were each given a meal voucher for a free lunch, which was excellent. It was a calm crossing and disembarking at Calais was straightforward as all the passport checks had been completed at Dover.
The journey to Verneuil took about 3.5 hours but we had a stop at the Aire de la Baie de Somme service station and, with very little traffic on the motorway (and no potholes!), we arrived at 7pm (6pm UK time) to be greeted enthusiastically by our hosts.
The next day, the younger children went to school accompanied by Sarah Haddow, while the rest of us went to a nearby town, Pont-Sainte Maxence, where we had a guided tour of the historic sites and then walked to Moncel Abbey to be joined by the French and English children to eat our picnic lunch (provided by our hosts) in the grounds. In the afternoon there was an activity organised for the younger children while the rest of us were given a guided tour of the 14th century abbey, once a convent, now a wedding venue! I spent the evening at home with my hosts and enjoyed another superb dinner.
The following day was supposedly to be spent with the hosts but as Danielle was having a cataract operation, and would need her husband to be available, Jean-Pierre drove me to the station and I spent the day with a friend before returning in time for the party at the Salle Bufosse at 6.30. This was a lavish affair: a splendid buffet supper, unlimited supplies of wine, and wonderful decorations with lots of French and British bunting. Some musicians serenaded us, including Emily, one of the French committee members, on the recorder. Everyone was very relaxed and merry.
We met at the Salle Bufosse again on Sunday morning. After many photos had been taken, including a group photo, we enjoyed a buffet lunch before leaving for the drive to Calais, stopping for a break on the way. After a delay, owing to the cancellation of a ferry, we made it back to Shelford, tired but very happy, and having made new friends and enjoyed French hospitality at its best and (in my case) learnt some new French words.
Throughout the trip, our organisers, Sarah Haddow and Colin Jefferson, were committed to the safety and wellbeing of the travellers and, if there were any hitches, I was not aware of them! The driver was brilliant too.