WE HAVE just had our annual get-together with the Lions Club of Alençon. Thirteen of them came over which proved to be unlucky for them. Due to a sophisticated piece of skullduggery by the self-appointed English referee we won the annual boules tournament. It was quite simple really. Hold the match as soon as they get off the boat. Declare yourself in charge. Then declare the match over when your team is leading. I thought a second battle of Agincourt was about to ensue but the happy atmosphere created by an abundance of booze, bangers and steaks prevailed.
The following day we had a magnificent brunch laid on for us by The Red Lion in Overton. The French really enjoy the Full English breakfast. Fortunately it was serve yourself which they happily did again and again and again, and so did the rest of us!
We then took them for a guided tour of the history and workings of the Whitchurch Silk Mill. It was most interesting and, of course, in idyllic surroundings which delighted our visitors. They thought the abundance of trout and ducks in the Test amazing, and thoroughly enjoyed the cream tea. Then home for a quick 40 winks before getting dressed in dickie bows etc and adjourning to the Basingstoke Golf Club for the 47th anniversary of our Club’s charter and the 41st anniversary of our twinning with the Alençon Lions.
Now the French are noted “foodies” but they were truly impressed by the quality of the meal, particularly the roast lamb which they pronounced the best they’d ever tasted. One of our guests of honour for the evening was Mayor Dan Putty, who addressed us eloquently in both English and French when accepting a donation for his charities, and then proceeded to dance the socks off one our lady Lions in a frenetic jitterbug display. Now that is the kind of guest of honour you want.
And so to the final morning, which gave the guests and hosts a chance to socialise at home over the inevitable bacon, sausages, eggs, mushrooms, black pudding (which I forgot and had to eat for a week), hash browns and waffles (which I remembered, but cremated). Then, after an enjoyable light lunch at the Fox at Newfound, (you must have got the main idea of this weekend by now) off down to Portsmouth Historic Dockyard for a tour of the Mary Rose Museum and a final dinner at the Royal Maritime Club before delivering our guests back to the ferry. Whew!