Verwood and Three Legged Cross Twinning Association - UK

1987 J Wadge

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Home 1987 J Wadge 1988 to Champtoceaux


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Destination Champtoceaux - Wild West

by Julie Wadge

I arrived at Nantes airport at approximately 11.30 am on Monday 27th July (1987). We travelled to Champtoceaux by BMW and ate our very large dinner at approximately 12 pm. I stayed with the 'Hardy' family for a week which worked out to be preparation for the scout camp. We spent several afternoons at "L'Aujardiere" which was a barn-cum- garage containing four wagons and lots of wood.

Although we went down every day there was not a lot of work to be done - all I did was fold up some old clothes!

We were at "L'Aujardiere" at 7 am on Monday 3rd August. The last person arrived at 7.45 am (many of you probably know that this is typical of the French!). The horses arrived at 8.30 am and we set off at 9.30 am. We had chosen a white horse called 'Docile'. ('Dopey' would have been more apt as we had to push her up all the hills!).

We travelled very slowly the first day, but I was given a chance to drive with reins - these people did not know what risks they were taking. I narrowly missed three hedges and the wagon in front!

On the second day we were told to walk up all the hills as the horses were tired but, luckily, I was not too tired after a lunch break of four hours ( 11.00 am - 3.00 pm ). We were told that the horses had to digest their food, but 1 think it was more a case of the leaders wanting a siesta.

We travelled in this way for five days in all - a little like a hippy convoy with singing sessions as we were going along. We arrived at the 'Abbaye de la Graineuere' fairly early on Thursday evening and set up our tents. We were instructed to space our tents far apart - French youth leaders have the same problem as English (The picture on the right shows one of the leaders Dr Bernard Seguin talking with one of the Monks.)

The abbey and surroundings were very peaceful. There were five monks in all and at least two were disabled. The monks were very kind to us and in return for their kindness we dug a trench to clear their lake. I was cutting pieces of tomato for the monks on Saturday when I had a surprise visit from the Clifton family. I was so relieved to see somebody English! (The picture on the left shows Julie unable to speak.)

We hitchhiked to most places on Monday - our feet we so tired it seemed worth taking the risk! During the afternoon we went to see the 'Grotte de Lourdes' which is a small cave with statues and crucifixes around it. As we walked down to it we heard singing. A group of women were holding an afternoon mass. It was very peaceful and the chants gave the atmosphere a certain wholeness.

We arrived back at the campsite after all the other groups and I was soon to find that Caroline - my 'host' was ill. She missed the evening discussion on whether the camp was better than last year and if the friendship of the group had strengthened, it was very interesting.

The last few days were very tiring as we had to push the horses everywhere! About half of the youngsters in the group camped out under the stars for the last night. It gives you a great sense of freedom, but it is rather chilly at 7 o'clock in the morning!

Looking back on my trip I am sure that I have gained more independence and also more friends from Verwood's twin town. I hope that some of the young people from Champtoceaux will return to England to give us a chance to repay them for their generosity.

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