October 2013 – and it was the turn of the Rotary Club of Canterbury to entertain members of its oldest Contact Club, The Rotary Club of Saint Quentin in the Aisne Department of the Picardy region of France, to a weekend of fellowship and fun. The relationship between the two clubs goes back to shortly after the Second World War and has been active ever since. With the exception of the years when either of the clubs is organising the Pentangular on their home soil, the Canterbury and Saint Quentin clubs take turns annually to entertain the other club in their respective towns.
So it was on Friday evening 4th October members of the Rotary Club of Canterbury gathered at the Kent and Canterbury Club to await the arrival of their French guests. They duly arrived; hugs, kisses and hand-shakes (depending on levels of familiarity) were exchanged, a glass or two of wine was consumed and hosts and guests depart for diner en famille.
Saturday arrived and it was clear, that for some, the renewal of old friendships had lasted late into the night! So, a relaxing morning was what was needed before the rendezvous for the first event at Tenterden Railway Station. Then, a gentle steam-train ride through the countryside to Bodiam and back, accompanied by a ploughman’s lunch and pastries, proved just the ticket. Accompanying the travellers as well was a team of Morris Dancers and their musicians who were part of the Tenterden Folk Festival which was taking place over the same weekend.
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|All Aboard...||The travelling Morris
|Our loco changes ends|
|Gill, Jenny & Bob||USA Class loco No. 65 all
hooked-up and ready to go
& Catherine at Bodiam
The lure of Bodiam Castle was sadly tempered by the need to get back on the return train. However, a trip to see this historic Norman Castle isn’t out of the question during a future visit. So it was off back to Tenterden where many of the party took the opportunity to not only see the town, but also the accompanying folk festivities.
Evening arrived and, after the usual map-reading challenge, everybody congregated at Sue and Stephen Thompson’s in the wilds of Stelling Minnis for aperitifs and hors d’oeuvres before setting off who knew where for a mini Safari Supper. The calmer surroundings of members’ houses, as they served either a main course or desert, made for more intimate conversations – and laughter – which helped promote and cement the close friendships between members of the two clubs.
Sunday morning was again à loisir en famille and before we knew it, it was time to say goodbye. A sumptuous traditional Sunday Roast at Etchinghill Golf Club – close by to the Channel Tunnel Terminal at Folkestone - fortified the visitors for their journey home.
For those who have experienced these gatherings before, the weekend served to underline the unique bond which exists between the two clubs. For first-timers on both sides it opened their eyes to what makes the relationship special, and what makes it such an important part of the heritage of both clubs. Canterbury members won’t be visiting St Quentin next October, instead we will be partaking in the Pentangular, hosted by the French in June. Our next small-group event in France will therefore be in October 2015 with the next visit to Canterbury in 2016.
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