TWENTY-SIX Bude and Stratton twinners left Bude travelling by coach and ferry to Ergue-Gaberic in north-western France on Thursday, May 27.
After a very smooth crossing, everyone was in high spirits and we arrived on Friday morning at 11am where we were warmly welcomed by our French friends.
After introductions and a welcome, especially to new twinners including our then mayor Lea Deely, we partook in some refreshments.
Later we paid a visit to Armor Lux, a manufacturer of marine clothing, which was created in 1938 in Quimper and is known for the manufacture of clothing inspired by French maritime tradition and well known for the horizontal striped Breton shirts.
Later several families joined together for an evening soirée.
The following day many families went to Quimper where music and dancing was taking place in the street. Others went to the coast to see the sand yachting whilst others enjoyed the countryside.
At 5pm we all met in the Bude and Stratton Square for the inauguration of bibooks.
In 1985, the Bude and Stratton Twinning Association presented to their French counterparts in Ergue-Gaberic a red telephone box including a tin of paint. The telephone box spent it’s earlier years outside Bude Railway Station.
Although today you can see many of these boxes throughout France, the Bude box was the first box to be installed in France and the first phone box to be adapted to take the Euro and French phone numbers. Sadly the mobile phone and internet brought the public phone box into decline.
The phone box symbolises friendship and communication between our two towns and is a much-loved icon in Ergue-Gaberic.
Several suggestions were put forward to its new use and the committee in Ergue-Gaberic decided to create a mini library, hence the phone box became the bibook.
The box was taken away by the municipal services and returned looking spic and span. The inside has been fitted with shelves and the mini library has a splendid selection of both French and English books for both adults and children.
Ms Deely, was very honoured to be in Ergue-Gaberic at this time and gifts were exchanged between the mayor of Ergue-Gaberic and Bude and Stratton. Speeches were made enforcing the links between our two towns.
A poignant moment occurred when we spoke very warmly of Harry Laurence, a founder member of the Bude and Stratton Twinning, who very sadly died a few days before we departed before the chairman, Robert Taylor, was asked to cut the tape to open the bibook.
A gift of a replica phone box was also presented to Bude and Stratton, which we hope to have displayed in a suitable place in our town.
This was followed by an invitation to a drinks reception in the salle de l’europe. A delicious evening meal followed at L’Oree du Bois and we were introduced to some traditional Breton dancing and had fun trying to guess who the baby pictures were of.
Sunday we were up early to visit Keroman Submarine Base, which was a World War Two German submarine base in Lorient. It was decided to build the base in June 1940 and between February 1941 and January 1942 where three gigantic reinforced concrete structures were built which could house up to 30 submarines.
The size of the base was awesome and very difficult to imagine what is was like during the war. It was impossible to destroy, so the town of Lorient was flattened in order to cut off fuel and supplies to the Germans. We had an excellent guided tour of the Keroman U-boat base given by a guide.
Lunch in a local restaurant was followed by a trip to Port Louis where we had free time to visit the Citadelle and marine museum.
After a very varied and interesting day we returned with our host for an evening meal.
Sadly all good things come to an end and Sunday morning after many goodbyes and some singing, we departed Ergue-Gaberic for the return trip home taking with us many happy memories of the weekend.
By Christine Taylor