I have just got back from my weekend away to St Pol, France with work. And, despite all my reservations about going it was AH-MAAZINGG! Basically, it was filled with English people who didn't speak much French or German, German people who didn't speak much English or French and French people who didn't speak much German or English. But it was filled with laughter and fun, and lots of wine and cheese. Yum.
St Pol is situated in Northern France, and it took us about 9 hours to get there by train (and a very exciting trip on the Eurostar). But it was a nice journey, that was very simple and we had no hicups. Apart from me dropping my phone in Calais station and being convinced I had broken it, and not understanding how to print our tickets out. But all was well in the end.
As soon as we arrived, we were whisked off to the Mayors house where we were welcomed with wine and beer. Maurice the Mayor of St Pol and his wife don't speak much English but that doesn't stop them being full of smiles and laughter, they were so welcoming. After that it was straight to the house we were staying to dump our bags then a restaurant for tea and finally on to an organ concert (which I may or may not have fallen asleep thoughout, oops).
Saturday was then filled with formalities of gift giving, speeches and medal presentations. Which were not my favourite part of the weekend, because well speeches aren't the most exciting things in the world. However, after that was lunch which was buffet style. It started with a variety of cold salads, bread and meat. Beautiful. Oh, and champagne and wine too. Obvs.
Saturday night was the big twinning do, which is one of the funniest things I have ever been to. Half way through the night, lots of German 'princes' popped up waving and shouting 'Hallo' and doing all kinds of gymnastics. I really really want to go to Carnaval in Warstein, Germany now!
Sunday was the end of the Twinning celebrations, so it was where everyone waved goodbye. It was so sweet to see how these three nationalities have become such good friends and how sad they were to say goodbye to each other. It was really moving, and I was so glad I got to be a part of it. When everyone had gone home, we had a quick lunch in the garden (jealous?) then more drinks, bread and cheese at the Mayors house.
Monday, me and my fellow Councillor went into St Pol centre to browse the local market which was gorgeous. And then we visited the WW1 memorial site where many British soldiers are buried. It was really moving, as many of those who died where my age, or a little older. It made me very proud, and touched.
And then, we started our journey home.
It was honestly, one of the best opportunities I have ever had. So much fun. Twinning is such a special thing, and it really does bring communities together. I hope it carries on for a long time, and hope I can be a part of it. But next, they both visit Hebden Bridge in August. Which I am so excited for.