Fromage et cidre pour visiteurs!

Uckfield's visitors from Arques
Uckfield's visitors from Arques

Unveiling the Twinning Charter in Uckfield’s Civic Centre last month was the centrepiece of an action packed programme for 28 visitors from Uckfield’s French partner, Arques la Bataille.

Events included a walk on the South Downs, a rare sighting of steam locomotives at Uckfield station, bonfire celebrations and the Remembrance Service at the Airman’s Grave on the Ashdown Forest – plus a choice of musical events.

Undaunted by a stormy crossing from Dieppe the visitors braved the heavy rain for a hike up the Downs near Glynde led by ecologist Dr Martyn Stenning. They were rewarded with local cider tasting at Middle Farm.

Next followed an unforgettable sighting of two steam engines -West Country Pacific loco 34046 ‘Braunton’ and Black Five loco 44932 with a full complement of carriages pulling into Uckfield station.

Uckfield Mayor Ian Smith then invited all back to the Civic Centre for the unveiling ceremony and a civic reception.

The group was also able to visit the bonfire celebration at East Hoathly. Visitor Feriane Amrani said: “The fireworks are the best I have ever seen.”

By Sunday morning the weather changed and the French friends were able to enjoy a sunny autumn morning on the Ashdown Forest to attend the Remembrance Day commemoration at the Airman’s grave.

They then all returned to Nutley village hall to warm up with glasses of cider mulled to a special recipe by Uckfield host Jane Pritchett, accompanied by a sampling of English regional specialities.

“We wanted to show our French visitors the range of English food,” said co-ordinator Jacky Wallace.

For the final evening Uckfield members were able to offer a choice of musical entertainment. Gill Comber was hosting visitors but also singing and reading at a concert of songs and poetry from the two World Wars in Holy Cross Church.

A packed audience enthusiastically joined in many old favourites. Gill commented: “The evening managed to celebrate the positive while giving everyone a chance to reflect.”

Association member Gill Sudbery tempted a group to Brighton to hear her sing in a performance of J.S. Bach’s St John Passion, the final work in this year’s Brighton Early Music festival.

Trips have been organised this year to both of twin towns - Quickborn in Germany and Arques in Northern France. Further trips and events are planned for next year - contact for details.