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Group visit to Malaunay 2007

On friday the 4th May 22 members of the group visited Malaunay on our bi-annual visit.

We had originally intended taking the St. Neots Judo Club with us but unfortunately they had to call off their trip too late in the day for us to find another group so we used private transport for the trip instead of the usual coach, we travelled by an assortment of routes, tunnel, ferry, seacat arriving at different times during the day which meant we did not have the usual reception on arrival. However, we all arrived safely at our host families in time for at least an evening meal, although, in the case of Max & Ros Hill and myself our meal did not start until 11pm due to our late departure from Sandy due to work committments.

Due to the lateness of the meal, where we were entertained by our particular hosts Herve & Nicole Dore, Didier & Nicole Ras and also Annick Dumont the President of the Jumelage de Malaunay, we did not get back to the house and bed until 2am, a very long day although very enjoyable to meet up again with old friends.

On the saturday morning I accompanied Herve & Nicole shopping at Barentin followed by lunch (the normal French idea of a light lunch, aperitif [pastis & nibbles], starter, main course, cheese board, then sweet followed by coffee). We were then joined by Max, Ros, Didier and Nicole for a trip to Rouen to view the new lifting bridge due to open in two years time which will allow the annual tall ships armada to sail into the centre of Rouen.

The next port of call was to the famous Gros Horolge the giant clock in the centre of town, where we were treated to an audio guided tour (in English) of the clock and adjoining belfry ending up on a very narrow catwalk with fantastic views over the whole of Rouen.

This was follwed by a visit to the Musee de Joan d'Arc immediately opposite the unusually shaped Joan of Arc Cathedral on the site where the Maid of Orleans was burnt by the English as a heretic before being later posthumously officially pardoned by the French authorities and became venerated as a Saint. The museum contained several facsimlies of documents and other materials from the time and a series of waxwork tablouex depicting the whole story from the day she decided to offer her services to the day she was burnt, all the tableoux had commentaries in French, English, German and Italian and at the end of the exhibition was a display of pictures and posters of various films and plays about her and actrsses who had played her part in them

By this time we were feeling a trifle peckish so we adjourned to Didiers for our evening meal where we were once again joined by Annick. This was another very enjoyable meal followed by the normal libation of Calvodos.

Sunday was polling day for the French Presidential elections in France so I accompanied Herve & Nicole to the polling station in the local school near their house in Deville des Rouen and watched whilst they made their choice which gave me an opportunity to note the differences in the voting methods in France and England. Some of our group went along in the late afternoon to the count in Malaunay where apparently the public were allowed to walk freely among the tables as the count was taking place, an amazing lack of security in comparison to the polling stations where their identity was scrutenised on arrival, again after filling in the ballot from, again before their vote was allowed to be placed in the ballot box, then again and finally they had to sign that they had voted. I think I still prefer the British way.

Lunch time we made tracks to a very interesting Auberge in a nearby village for an official lunch for the whole group and their hosts. The Auberge was not normally open on a sunday but opened up specially for us.The whole building, inside and out was done up to represent a Mexican ranch with all sort of appropriate nick knacks on the ceiling and walls. The meal started in the normal French fashion with assorted apertif and pastis, whisky etc followed by a giant paella containing chicken, tiger prawns, mussels, octopus etc on a bed of rice and beans, then caramalised ice cream and ended with a couple of hours of dancing and champagne. A very enjoyable and civilised way to spend a sunday afternoon.

In the evening our small grouo gathered again for the final evening meal at which we first watched the result of the presidential elections and then cooked our own crepes at the table with our own choice of fillings including prawns, quail eggs and many other choices followed naturally by the ubiquitous cheese then more crepes with an assortment of sweet fillings. After consuming a fairly vast quantity of Calvodos (for which I blame Didiers heavy hand) we adjourned for the earliest night yet (about midnight)

Monday morning our little group got together again to say our farewells and departed first to the hypermarche in Mont St.Aignan for about two hours of shopping before heading to Boulogne to catch the Speedferry Seacat for the return journey to Dover arriving back in Sandy by 8pm. An extremely enjoyable weekend as usual and we say a very sincere thanks to our hosts and the Committe de Jumelage de Malaunay and look forward to welcoming you in Sandy in November for our 25th anniversary celebrations.