12th - 16th April 2019:
Visit to Buxton - Bienvenue aux Oigninois !
Buxton Friday Evening : Le Bus Français Arrive
Petit déjeuner sur le Parking à Calais : Les Amis de Buxton wait to board the ferry to Dover.
17:45 and as the Friends of Oignies gather at St. Thomas More school, anticipation begins to mount at the impending arrival of le bus français. Buxton members, young and old, are looking forward to renewing acquaintances with their french guests. The progress of the coach has been posted throughout the day on Facebook, including photos from either side of la Manch, and a recently received text from Ashbourne augers well for an on time arrival.
18:00 and the Voyages Roses coach swings into the school car park and the Twinning Weekend can properly begin. Les Amis de Buxton descend from the coach to be enthusiastically greeted by the Friends of Oignies. Along with the luggage, a substantial quantity of wine is also unloaded, generously provided by nos bons amis français.
With luggage transferred to cars and the wine safely stowed away, it's time to move inside for the reception buffet where High Peak Mayor, Linda Grooby welcomes Madame Fabienne Dupuis, le Maire de Oignies on her first visit to Buxton. Soon the Tommy More's Dance Studio is buzzing with chatter in French, English and Franglais, as the esprit de camaraderie internationale flourishes once again. As well as Mme le Maire and her husband Claude, Véronique Lefebvre and her daughter Victoire are also making their first visit to Buxton, making up the total to 70 visitors altogether. It's always great to welcome new members from Oignies, and also very encouraging to see so many young family members from both sides of the Channel, which can only bode well for the future of the Twinning.
The Weekend gets under way, in the Tommy More's Dance Studio
Reception Buffet is served
2019 is the 51st year of the Buxton Oignies Twinning, and at the increasingly lively reception buffet, the second half century is now well underway.
Several members enquired about the slideshow of images from past Twinning weekends which was showing during the reception, and whether they could have copies of some of the photos. You can select any of the 64 images for download using the link below.
Saturday Morning : Parade and Remembrance Service on the Slopes
The Buxton Oignies Twinning came about as a direct result of the tragic events which occurred in and around Oignies in May 1940, during World War II. Thus, every year we hold a ceremony to remember, in particular, the 6 soldiers from Buxton interred in the cemetery in Oignies, and the 80 civilian inhabitants of the town who were murdered by the German army. You can read more about these events and the history of the Twinning on the about us page here.
The Fairfield Band lead the procession to the War Memorial on the Slopes
Mme Fabienne Dupuis and Councillor Linda Grooby, Mayors of Oignies and of High Peak.
Above: Humanist Celebrant Fiona Sloman leads the service of remembrance.
This year it was decided to mark the occasion with a humanist ceremony, which was led by celebrant Fiona Sloman. The service consisted of a selection of readings of poetry and prose, in English and in French, with musical accompaniment on violins followed by the Last Post, then after a few moments of silence, Reveille played on trumpet. The service concluded with the National Anthems of France and the United Kingdom played by the Fairfield Band.
Left: Richard Hector and Derek Thomas, Président and Chair of the two associations, lay wreaths at the Memorial.
Ceremonial Standard Bearers
Saturday Night : Country and Western Dinner Dance
The Hangtown Thieves on stage at Tommy More's School.
The dinner dance is traditionally the principal social event of the twinning weekend, and with the theme for 2019 being Country and Western, there was a distinctly wild west atmosphere in the main hall at Tommy More's on Saturday night. There were posses of cowboys in jeans and check shirts, indian squaws and even a wild west steampunk crew, all topped off with an eclectic selection of stetson hats, ranging from shocking pink to the more conventional ten gallon variety. An excellent barbecue style buffet complemented the western theme, with a very generous quantity of table wine, provided by les Amis de Buxton.
Live music and entertainment was provided by local hillbilly band 'the Hangtown Thieves', who were just fantastic, and definitely the highlight of the evening.
A pretty universal opinion as far as I could tell!
The 'Hangtown Thieves' had also brought along a selection of games to entertain everybody during the interval between their sets. Great fun was had by all, chucking horseshoes, shooting at tin cans, racing pigs across the floor and at the hoopla stall. In fact everyone was having such a great time that we (the Friends of Oignies Committee) totally forgot that we were meant to be keeping score, a necessary procedure in order to declare a winner of the Annual Anglo-French challenge, AKA la Coupe Albert Boitrel...
Quelle horreur - quoi faire alors?! After an impromptu committee meeting, it was decided that there would be a shoot out between Chair Derek and Président Richard for the honour of lifting the cup. Unfortunately this shoot out resulted in a dead heat, with only one tin can each - though it would be uncharitable to suggest that the lack of shooting accuracy was in any way related to the number of drinks consumed over the evening by the two contestants! In the end the matter was decided by bras de fer (arm wrestling), and Oignies were victorious for the second year in a row. Here's hoping we will be able to restore the honour of the Friends of Oignies in 2020...
La FamilleSteampunk : Maëlys, Hugo et Rosy Alleaume
Line Dancing - Les Oigninois are much better than we Buxtonians!
Fun and Games - Wild Western Style!
After a lively and entertaining Saturday night, Sunday was set aside as a family day, with no organised events, as is the usual tradition. Our guests from Oignies were treated to a wide selection of days out, including: 10 pin bowling at Macclesfield, Sunday lunch aboard a steam train at Peak Rail along with visits to Hardwick Hall and the gardens at Biddulph Grange.
Catrin and I took our guests, Hugo Rosy and Maëlys, on an energetic hike around Hartington. Les Alleaume had asked, after their last visit, to see some more of the Peak District countryside. Taking them at their word, we told them to pack some stout footware. After an 11km circuit of Wolfscotedale and Biggin Dale, Hugo declared that the step counting app. on his smartphone had crashed due to exhaustion!
Off for a hike in the White Peak
Monday : Day Trip to York
As les Amis de Buxton had specifically asked for a trip to York, this year we obliged with a day out in the historic city. On arrival, shortly after midday, we all headed for the Panda Mami restaurant on the banks of the Ouse, for an international buffet Lunch. The all you can eat buffet was a big hit with both Buxton and Oignies members, judging by plates heaped with dishes from around the world.
After lunch, (with some staying longer than others, as they weighed up a 3rd helping of dessert against setting forth to sample the delights of York), families were free to saunter the ancient cobbled streets and visit the many and varied attractions of the city.
Window shopping in York
Walking the city walls
Members headed off in various directions, with visits made to the Jorvik Viking Exhibition, York Minster and the National Railway Museum amongst the favourites, whilst others took a stroll along the city walls. Maëlys, our teenage guest, was especially impressed with the (no less than) three Harry Potter Shops on the Shambles - of course we had to visit all three!
The coach home took a rather unusual 'scenic' route over the moors from Sheffield, apparently to avoid a hold up on the M1.
The upside being some great views of the sun setting over the Dark Peak, captured in these shots by Hugo, taken from the bus.
Tuesday Morning : Le Départ des Oigninois
It is often remarked that the Twinning Weekends always seem to pass by in a bit of a blur. Three slightly hectic days of fun, activity and bonhomie. Then suddenly it’s all over, and time for the bus back home.
And so, with the visit over for another year, our friends from Oignies boarded the coach in Burlington Road as we all said our goodbyes and au revoirs.
Some Buxton members then headed off in their cars, to wave past the coach at various points on the road to Ashbourne, followed by in turn by les Amis de Buxton heading for Dover and the English Channel.
Many thanks, to all les Amis and Friends who took part, for helping to make the 2019 edition such an enjoyable and entertaining visit.
À 2020 alors, et une bonne continuation du deuxième demi-siècle! - Looking forward to 2020, and the continued second half century of the Twinning!