August Bank Holiday weekend 2014 saw the 39th exchange visit of the CCTA and by a happy coincidence 39 French friends arrived exactly on time on the Saturday evening.
After relaxing with their host families on Sunday morning, they were welcomed by the Chairman, Tracey Kinsey, and the Mayor of Chepstow, Ned Heywood MBE, at a Pimms reception with delicious nibbles held in the Drill Hall. This was followed by a rousing ceilidh, led once again by local band Rig-a-Jig, and a copious Ploughman’s Supper – nobody went home hungry!
Monday was a free day for families to entertain their guests: some got together for meals, others visited local places of interest, and hopefully the traditional British Bank Holiday torrential rain did not dampen spirits too much.
On Tuesday, 75 of us boarded two coaches and headed to Brecon where some chose to visit the military museum and had an interesting talk and weapons demonstration, and others explored the town with its shops, covered market and cathedral. We then travelled a few miles further to the Mountain Railway at Pant where we ate our picnics in the shelter of the waiting room. It may have been a little cramped but we certainly got to know each other better! We then piled into the observation carriages of the steam train, to the bemusement of the other passengers, and enjoyed the scenic views of the Brecon Beacons as it ascended to Torpantau, stopping on the way down for people to visit the little steam museum or get an ice cream.
Finally, on Wednesday we held a superb Hog Roast lunch in Mathern Village Hall, followed by energetic indoor team games for those who wanted to speed up their digestion – personally I counted myself lucky to have retained the contents of my stomach after Steve’s forceful attempts at the Heimlich Manoeuvre during the tug of war. The French may have won, but we didn’t cheat…
Our friends departed on their homeward journey early Thursday morning, leaving their hosts exhausted but happy, vowing to start their diets tomorrow, and looking forward to the return visit to Cormeilles next year, the 40th anniversary of the Twinning.