So, what’s all this twinning actually about? Well to give you some idea, here’s our twinning story.
We only got into it last year, as a result of hearing about it from someone in our French class. To be honest, I wasn’t at all sure about it to begin with. It actually seems a bit daunting, as you pack up your bags and head off to the ferry at Plymouth, knowing at the other end you’ll be staying with a family you’ve never met. The twinning committees match the French and English families, so that you should end up staying with someone of roughly the same age and interests, but I have to say, we were a little worried.
The coach arrived in the centre of Teignmouth at a rather antisocial 6.00, and we were off, first stop Plymouth for the ferry to Roscoff, and then on to Perros-Guirec in another coach. We pulled into the stunningly beautiful village of Perros, to be greeted by a crowd of around 50 townspeople, and we started to look around for our hosts for the weekend. We’d cheated a bit and emailed pictures to each other, so it was easy to pick out Yves and Claudine, who immediately greeted us like long lost friends.
On the way to their house, in nearby Ploumanac’h, they treated us to a quick guided tour of the coast. I said the first of very many ‘wows’. We ended up at their house and were again made very welcome, especially by Harry, the dog named after the famous wizard. Anyone with a dog named after Harry Potter couldn’t be all bad could they?
It turns out both Yves and Claudine were first time twinners just like us, and they were as keen to practise their English as we were to try out our fledgling French.
Living in a French house for a long weekend turned out to be a real education, we learned so much about French culture and customs and had a superb time. We were treated like part of the family, to the extent we were even taken round and introduced to the neighbours.
Over the course of the three days we were there the French had laid on numerous events for us, the vast majority of which were presented for two groups, one for English speakers and one for French speakers. We decided to accompany the French speakers, OK we might not understand every word, but we thought it would be nice not to be separated from our hosts, who in just a few hours had become firm friends.
The weekend passed in a flash, and I can honestly say I’ve never laughed so much in my life. We had some great meals, both with our hosts and in larger groups, and really got an understanding of how the French live, something you just can’t pick up by staying in a hotel. We had a social program which ranged from visiting the relics of St Yves, the patron saint of lawyers, to seeing the ground station that received the first broadcasts from the Telstar satellite. The whole thing was taken very seriously by the French, the mayor laid on a reception, complete with bubbly, and the farewell dinner was great, especially the Breton dancing!
All too quickly it was time to get back of the ferry and return home, but we’d definitely made new friends, and keep in contact via email. We are also hugely looking forward to showing them a little of our fabulous Devon countryside when they come and stay with us in May.
The one thing that came across very strongly was just what an amazing place Teignmmouth is twinned with. We’d both visited France, numerous times in fact, but the Pink Granite Coast, as the area is known, is an area of outstanding natural beauty, and makes a fantastic place to spend a weekend, and with the locals showing you all the hidden gems, it feels like an upmarket holiday rather than a twinning exchange.
If you are thinking about giving twinning a go, then I urge you to jump in with both feet and give it a try, it’s simply superb fun and a great way to learn about new cultures.