One Friday evening in early October Paul Hirons, Jane and Howard Mordue and Sue Watkins with 4 students from the Royal Latin School flew from Birmingham to Dusseldorf at the start of a weekend visit to Neukirchen-Vluyn, with which we have a friendship agreement.
The weekend was arranged to celebrate 25 years of Neukirchen-Vluyn being twinned with Mouvaux in France, which is also Buckingham’s French twin town, and Ustron in Poland, so it was a very international gathering. The British guests had been invited along to join in the celebrations. We were made very welcome by our German hosts some of whom we had met before on previous trips.
On the same weekend the international youth forum took place, at which young people from each country had been asked to prepare a presentation about the refugee situation in their country. On Saturday morning all the guests listened to some very interesting facts ably presented in English by the teenagers. This had been preceded by some Polish singing from a small folk group from Ustron, who also played and sang for the guests afterwards.
After lunch with our host families we went to Schloss Bloemersheim for a tour of their orchards. The tour was led by the owner, Baron von der Leyen, who told us a little of the history of the castle, before taking us to see some of his fruit plantation. This was followed by coffee or tea and apples from the orchards. On Saturday evening there was a lovely buffet meal after the official speeches and exchanges of gifts between Neukirchen-Vluyn, Mouvaux an Ustron. The evening gave everybody a chance to catch up with old friends from previous visits to the various towns. We also had some local entertainment and some more Polish folk songs.
Some of the British guests went up the ‘Halde’, an old mining slag heap on Sunday morning, while others relaxed, went or a stroll in the park or visited the museum at Moers castle nearby. In the afternoon most of the British party went to Venlo in neighbouring Holland for a bit of shopping and sightseeing. The German shops are closed on a Sunday but those in Holland are not: the majority of people there seemed to be from Germany.
All too soon it was time to leave for Dusseldorf airport for the return flight to Birmingham. Everybody who went thoroughly enjoyed the trip, making new friends whilst there, and we are looking forward to further visits in the future. For further information about our German connection please contact Sue Watkins (01280) 816266.