What a weekend (24-27August 2012) in Ancenis!

Well, our friends in Ancenis certainly celebrated the 40th anniversary of the twinning with Kirkham in style!

The weekend started on the Friday evening when we all met up and welcomed our fellow travellers some of whom had come by car, some by air and the German party by coach. Inside the Charbonnière, Ancenis' beautiful community centre, we all had a welcome drink and a buffet and got reacquainted with our French and German friends. Then it was off to our host families to get settled and in some cases, to get to know the hosts.

Saturday was a beautiful sunny day and started with the formalities of a short remembrance ceremony outside the Town Hall where a wreath from the three countries was laid at the war memorial. The less formal part of the weekend continued with welcoming speeches by the three mayors and the exchange of small gifts in a small 'amphitheatre' overlooking the Loire. The new mayor of Kirkham, Peter Hardy, made a big impression with his less-formal style and he was obviously thoroughly enjoying the occasion, when he took the opportunity to remind his audience that a 'local' boy, Bradley Wiggins, had just won the Tour de France, which was greeted by a round of applause! Around midday we assembled back on the terrace at the Charbonnière for drinks before moving inside for a superb buffet and drinks while listening to the German band and Ancenis' own Harmonie. The idea was to have a boule tournament after the buffet but everyone was having such a good time at the buffet that I think it got forgotten about! The evening was spent sat on a grassy bank with the Loire behind us listing to classics, big band and jazz played by a combination of the German and French bands. The evening rounded off with a magnificent firework display from boats anchored in the middle of the Loire.

Sunday was an early start for those who wanted to take the coach to the Machines d'Ile at Nantes. If you don't know this group they built the 'little girl' who was about 30ft high wandering through Liverpool last year and the 25 ft high mechanical elephant that wandered through London a while ago. Check out http://www.lesmachines-nantes.fr/ to see what you missed. We had a superb conducted tour with demonstrations of the prototypes for their mechanical bird and 15ft long caterpillar and the planned tree which they hope will be as iconic to Nantes as the Eiffel Tower is to Paris. The tree will be enormous 150ft high? with the birds flying around the top of the tree with people in the baskets they will carry with the caterpillars walking out along the branches among the people in the tree. Sound amazing and worth a trip in its own right! Then it was all back in the coaches and back to the Charbonnière for another buffet and then off to the host families for the last evening.

Monday was another early start to see our German friends off in their coach and to say goodbye to the friends leaving to head home to Kirkham and, of course, to say a sincere 'thank you' to all friends and hosts, particularly Christian and Monique and the Ancenis twinning committee for their wonderful hospitality.

                                                    If you click on the photos they should enlarge


                                                                                                          Ancenis and the Reception  

Greeting old friends

Getting the BBQ fired up!

Dinner with friends

The German coach arrives

Old friends meet. Helga and Christian


Reception at the Charbonniere

The wreath laying at the Town Hall Lowering the flags Peter Hardy giving his speech The mayor of Ancenis with his 'Olympic flame lighter' Presentation of the Twinning flags by Christian Making new friends. Peter with Brigitte, mayor of Bad Brückenau
Machines d'Ile
Arrival in Nantes The incredible tree Chris, John and Sandy up the tree Christian and Monique investigate the tree One of the caterpillars that will climb the tree One of the birds that will fly around the top of the tree
Helga trying to get a better view! The magnificent elephant goes for a walk Look out its coming! The amazing creatures on the roundabout Creepy crawlies are a speciality The prototype of the giant tree

More photos to follow soon!