Bisley-with-Lypiatt Twinning Association 

Our visit to Plessala this year was from 22nd to 26th August

Our annual Bastille Day Party was held once again on Sunday 14th July at Avenis Farm
and while waiting for the Cricket World Cup result we of course played some French Cricket.

Bags of Fun! A very interesting presentation by Master Piper Tom Jamieson and a Scottish-themed meal was enjoyed by all in Bisley WI Village Hall on Saturday 15th June.

Bingo! We held our Bingo night in Oakridge Village Hall on 12th April - fun and food was enjoyed by all.

Our AGM was held at Bisley WI Village Hall on Tuesday 5th March and the minutes have now been sent by email to all members.

We held our annual Twelfth Night party in Eastcombe Village Hall. The Lords and Ladies of Misrule were in charge and a good time was had by all.

We have regular events throughout the year, here in Bisley parish, as well as our annual exchange with the French, and we always welcome new members.

Annual membership of the Twinning Association is just £3, or £5 for a family. If you are interested in joining us, then please contact our chairman Muriel Brooks ( or 01452 770346). For details of our recent exchanges, see below.

Plessala, Brittany

The Twinning Association was founded in 1992 in response to an approach from the Association de Jumelage of the commune of Plessala in Brittany.

Plessala is a commune déléguée with 1,824 inhabitants (on 10th March 2000 according to the mayor's secretary) and an area of a little under 13,000 acres. It consists of the main village (the bourg) where most of the Plessalians live together with a number of other much smaller settlements with evocative names such as Saint-Udy, la ville-Orio (said to be the site of a Roman villa) and la Hautière. Plessala is now part of the enlarged commune of Le Mené. The pleasant rolling countryside rises to a height of 1,100 feet at Bel-Air at the north end of the commune, 6 km (about 4 miles) from the village. It is nicely placed 95 km (60 miles or so) from St. Malo and is convenient for visiting Brittany's beautiful north coast - and some of the many beauty spots inland.

Our parish and their commune have been exchanging visits once or twice a year since 1993 and two things stand out: the warmth and generosity of the hospitality of our French hosts and the unimportance of the language difference. They are really nice people. We like them and get on well with them: they seem to like us. Both sides enjoy their visits. On the coach returning from our first visit to them in 1993 everybody was saying "How on earth can we repay such hospitality?" Yet I am told that as they left Thomas Keble school later the same year they were all saying the same thing.

Over the years many friendships have developed between people and families here and over there. All the twinners have friends in Plessala; people with whom we are well acquainted even though they live in a small community in a foreign country and speak a different language.

Twinning is good fun. It is also very important because it shows that people get on together in spite of governments, prejudices and preconceptions (on both sides). Language really doesn't matter. Goodwill is the only requirement. Do join. Everyone who does enjoys it. So will you. Plessala - la vie est belle.

Click here to see a map of Plessala.   Click here to see the current weather in Brittany.

Our exchanges with Plessala

Our visit to Plessala this year was from 22nd to 26th August - for more details see Plessala 2019

The French were here with us for Bank Holiday weekend 24th to 27th August 2018 - for more details see French Visit 2018

Our visit to Plessala in 2017 was from 24th to 28th August - for more details see Plessala 2017

The French were with us from the 8th to 11th July 2016 - for more details see French visit 2016

Our visit to Plessala in 2015 was from 23rd to 27th July - for more details see Plessala 2015.

The French were here for Ascension Day at the end of May in 2014 - for more details see French visit 2014

We visited Plessala in July 2013 to join our hosts in celebrating Bastille Day and the 20th anniversary of our Twinning - see Plessala 2013 for more details.

The French were here for the Diamond Jubilee celebrations in June 2012 - for more details see French visit 2012.

Our visit to Plessala in 2011 was from 29th July to 1st August - see Plessala 2011 for a full description of the trip.

The French were with us from the 3rd to 5th July 2010 - for more details see French visit 2010.

We visited Plessala in May 2009. For a full description of the trip see Plessala 2009.

The French were here for Ascension Day in 2008 - for a full description of events, see French visit 2008.

We were in Plessala for Bastille Day in 2007 - for a full description of events, see Plessala 2007.

The French were with us from Friday 25 August to Monday 28 August 2006 - for a full description of events, see French visit 2006.

We were in Plessala for the weekend starting 19th August 2005 - see Plessala 2005 for a report on our visit.

Our first exchange visits were in 1993 - see Plessala 1993 and Bisley 1993.

Millenium sculpture in the park at Plessala

 The lake in the park



Leaving Plymouth Thursday eveningThe Twinning Association, linking our parish to Plessala in Brittany for 26 years, has once again passed a splendid weekend with our Breton friends. The weather was scorching, the political protests politely muted, the hospitality overwhelming, the journeys trouble-free (despite one passport hiccup which felt quite like old times)... After a night on the ferry we trundled around the spectacular rose-granite coast, pausing in Morlaix for our now-traditional coffee and melt-in-the-mouth pastry which kept up our strength until we could consume a good lunch in a seaside hotel. The obligatory trolley dash followed, this time in St Brieuc.


We were welcomed in Plessala's superb new triple sports/dance/community halls by not only our hosts, their president, and the mayor of Plessala but also the mayor of Le Mené, the new larger administrative area.. He declared himself a friend of twinning, giving us hope for the future at a time of fragile international relations.


Arrival in Plessala
We arrive in Plessala to be welcomed by our hosts and the Mayor Joseph Sauve.

Saturday was spent on a trip far afield at La Gacilly, a lavishly floral village - the streets lined with exhibitions of photographs as well as banks of flowers - that is the setting for the headquarters of Yves Rocher cosmetics. We picnicked on the river bank and then toured a high-tech museum that records his life and work – before staggering out in search of a snifter – a drink that is, not scent – on what was a gruellingly hot day. Oh, and in the evening we spent five or more hours feasting together in the Salle des Fêtes. Our perennial quip about going there to eat and drink for England is really no joke at all.

Lunch by the river Aff in La Gacilly Lunch by the river Aff in La Gacilly Refreshments at Maison Yves Rocher
Lunch by the river Aff in La Gacilly Lunch by the river Aff in La Gacilly Refreshments at Maison Yves Rocher
Feasting in the Salle des Fêtes Feasting in the Salle des Fêtes Feasting in the Salle des Fêtes
  Feasting in the Salle des Fêtes  

Some years ago we walked through the bed of a reservoir called Lac de Guerledan which had been drained for dam repairs, and this year a large group of us was shown that lunar landscape restored to its normal picturesque beauty. The boat trip was refreshing on a hot day – and other groups had similarly pleasing outings. There was a chance, too, that Sunday evening to eat up leftovers in a merry gathering in the Maison Philomene that continued the enormous friendliness that this twinning enjoys. Plots and plans were already being hatched that evening to host a similarly memorable visit here next year, probably over the 8 May weekend.

Our cruise boat leaves Lac de Guerledan Supper at Maison Philomene
Our cruise boat leaves Lac de Guerledan Supper at Maison Philomene

This year's expeditionary force was smaller than usual, a group of friends remaining in Oakridge to celebrate the wedding of Linda Adam and Clive Reardon who are among the founder members of the Twinning Association. We wish them many years of married happiness.

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The twinning associations of Bisley-with-Lypiatt and Plessala have just had their silver wedding, the celebrations proved most enjoyable, and the relationship is obviously sound, mature, and likely to endure. The downpours over the weekend 24-27 August 2018 were, I suppose, predictable after the glorious weather enjoyed all summer – the twinners are great ones for tradition, and it often rains on our parade. The important thing, though, was that Bisley Flower Show and Fete was at its very best on a sunny afternoon, and a great time was had by all. Even the visiting team's coach driver was bouncing on his toes, saying how much he was reminded of his Breton childhood.

Bisley Flower Show Bisley Flower Show Bisley Flower Show Bisley Flower Show

Our buffet supper and barn dance (for about 100) in the show tent was also an epic success, an evening of warm friendship and laughter, with excellent music supplied by the Cotswold Ceilidh Band. There were some birthday girls to be sung to, some cakes to be sampled, and fabulous gifts to be gratefully received: a really attractive book recording in photographs our happy meetings over the years; and 25 bottles of fizz, one for each year of association. Come to our next party!

Table 1 Table 2 Table 3 Table 4
Table 5 Table 6 Table 7 Table 8
Table 5 Table 6 Table 7 Table 8

Cake 1 Cake 2

Sunday was left free for the home team to exercise their hostly imaginations on how to entertain 16 10–18 year-olds and 19 38–79-year-olds on a very rainy day. The result was that some dashed in to the Giffords Circus big top, others went Shopping, or sampled a bit of social and cultural history in Bristol or Gloucester; a large number had an indoor BBQ, and one party showing slight national eccentricity threw their far-from-reluctant guests into water sports at the Cotswold Water Park. Wetsuits were supplied just to get from the cars to the lake, apparently...

BBQ inside

Ex-Bisley twinners, Vera and Rob Clouston, were welcomed down from Scotland, and a new twinning link is proposed with Kinghorn (only kidding – or am I?) Singers from Amberley/Nailsworth came to discuss with a French emissary the idea of choir exchanges starting next spring. Gosh! We could gyrate from here to Dumfries to Lèves to Amberley to Plessala to Nailsworth to Far Oakridge... We have South African members living in Bisley. And our favourite Franco-Polish/German couple. Surely they all would like to take us on a trip home. And that's just for starters...

Writing this on Bank Holiday Monday with one eye on the clock, I hope I am right in saying that our French friends are now safely back on a French motorway, speeding south, telling one another what a good time they had and sharing the recipe for Yorkshire pudding. They have left behind (as well as the fizz and an awful lot of galettes and chocolate) at least 60 tired but triumphant friends in all the villages of the parish, and some even futherflung enthusiasts. Duntisbourne Abbots? We know no limits...

Back on the bus to Plessala

More photos to come..

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Twenty-nine members of the Bisley-with-Lypiatt Twinning Association – and enthusiastic participant coach driver – went off to Brittany on Thursday 24 August 2017. Sadly, because of a technical hitch with a passport at Plymouth, only 27 of us arrived in Plessala; and indeed everyone needs warning that border controls are severe these days. There was also a problem with a penknife on the way back, not something one expects when sitting on a bus full of, erm, mainly ageing peaceful people from Gloucestershire...

MorlaixThe lucky 27 – and the driver – had a wonderful weekend, beginning with a little tour of our own through Friday. We landed at Roscoff, had coffee at Morlaix, took a beautiful coastal route past Lannion, ate a large lunch together in Guingamp, filled the coach lockers with yes-you've-guessed-it after shopping in Lamballe, and arrived to a warm welcome in Plessala at teatime. Winetime.

Friday evening was spent with host families, and on Saturday morning we all, hosts and guests, drove to Quintin for a tour of the (tenuously maintained) great house there. We were taken round by the châtelaine, whose family had owned the place since the twelfth century, and then there was a chance to see the adjacent church, and a little of the town. We picnicked in the park, and then set off again.

The next visit was to the vestiges of a lime kiln, which was interesting when one considers how many there used to be in our area. The type of limestone there is very different from ours, but the processes must have been the same. We all suffered in the heat (it was a very sunny weekend), and the guide was a little verbose, but the situation was picturesque and some happy people were taken around by pony and trap! As with all our trips, the scenery to and from Plessala was lovely, and the colours of harvest-time under clear blue skies will stay in our memories.

Quintin Quintin The Lime Kiln

That evening was spent in a typical Plessalian way in the big hall, with good food served at long tables, local musicians playing, wine flowing, and a good long noisy gossip. Happily, we had taken with us a secret weapon, and all fell silent while we listened to talented bagpipe music from one of our new members.. It was very well received.

Table 1 Table 2 Table 3 Table 4
Table 5 Table 6 Table 7 Table 8

The Band gets playing Dancing away
The Band gets playing Dancing away

We all had different experiences on Sunday as the days out were organized by each host family – some people went to local villages which were en fête (sit-down roast pig for 2000?), some went to the beach, some lucky few were taken to spectacular Dinan, and so on. The weather stayed furiously hot...

Watch the video made by one of our new, young, and enthusiastic members.





Cooling down in the sea 

Cooling down in the sea


It is always an effort to get up and off by 7am, but everyone was on time – for once – and our return via St Malo went swimmingly. Apart from that episode with the Swiss army knife. We always feel as though we have been away for weeks, and in need of a little lie down. This time, however, we were delighted and encouraged by having several local young people with us who did us proud and, we hope, are a sign that the Twinning will continue, with its many benefits... and far from the least of these are the social events we organize through the year: they may be fund-raising but they are also fun-raising. Get to know your local community! Join us!

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French Expeditionary Force 8th - 11th July 2016

Days after Britain announced a majority of its voters wished to leave the EU, 39 brave souls came from Plessala for the biennial visit and behaved with great courtesy (knowing they were among friends). The close ties strengthen year by year, and this July weekend sped past as we tried to repay previous Breton hospitality.

A bring-and-share supper and frisky barn dance (the band was Celtic Conspiracy) on the Saturday night, in Middle Hill Farm barn, was attended by about 100 people, a good time being had by all. At the suggestion of the band, a collection was taken for Médecins Sans Frontières which raised £175.00.

Welcome speeches in the barn The Barn Dance gets going Barn Dancing

Welcome speeches in the barn

The Barn Dance gets going


Sunday was spent in Tewkesbury, sampling for the first time the extraordinary fair and fight commemorating the 1471 battle. It is advertised as the largest battle reenactment in Europe, with groups from all over camping next to Bloody Meadow – the battlefield – and demonstrating fifteenth-century culture, clothes and crafts and skills. The arms and armour seemed thoroughly authentic, and there was some jolly good cannon-fire too. Our visitors were soon hailed by reenactors from Brittany, Marseilles, Paris, bringing home to us all the truth of the claim that the event annually attracts enthusiasts from across Europe. There was time to look at old Tewkesbury, and to stand in awe in the abbey, before hurtling south again to have supper at Fromebridge Mill. This, intended to be leisurely and ceremonious, had to be curtailed as we rushed our guests back to home televisions to watch the football final between France and Portugal. Draw a veil over the result – the conviviality lasted through the match and the morning mood on Monday continued to be merry.

The soldiers arrive in Tewkesbury Supper at Fromebridge Mill Supper at Fromebridge Mill

The soldiers arrive in Tewkesbury

Supper at Fromebridge Mill


We owe thanks to the landlords of The Lamb Inn in Eastcombe who kindly opened up early on Monday morning to provide cakes and hot drinks before we chased the guests on to their coach to catch the Caen ferry that afternoon.

Coffee and cakes at the Lamb Inn Coffee and cakes at the Lamb Inn Coffee and cakes at the Lamb Inn


Coffee and cakes at the Lamb Inn


We say goodbye We say goodbye We say goodbye


We say goodbye


Lessons are always learned during these encounters, but on the whole we pride ourselves on a job well done. Again.

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Visit to Plessala 23rd - 27th July 2015

As usual when there is rain during a Twinning visit to Plessala in Brittany, the British visitors got the blame – but there was plenty of sunshine too, and undeniable warmth in the reception we received. Gone are the long official speeches, it seems, for we are now welcomed like family returning home and the fun begins as soon as the coach arrives. This time 38 people from the parish of Bisley-with-Lypiatt and the wider district spent a truly happy two or three days mingling with a community which preserves its zest for enjoying life, working within the local economy, helping one another, holding on to traditions before they disappear altogether, but also pursuing innovation and modern amenities with enthusiasm and imagination. The hospitality shown by individual host families was spectacularly generous, but we also went out as guests of the Plessala twinning association.

A warm welcome at the Mairie
A warm welcome at the Mairie

On Saturday the group was guided round the drained bed of the Lac de Guerledan – an odd thing to do, one would think, but this is a beautiful, scenic, wooded valley flooded in 1923 to a great depth, and periodically drained to allow maintenance work on the dam downstream where electricity of immense importance to the whole of Brittany is generated. It was possible to see petrified trees, inundated locks of the old Nantes-Brest canal, and the workings of a great slate industry with ruined houses alongside. With typical local enterprise the local tourist chiefs persuaded EDF to allow them to run tours that have brought a great boost to the economy of the area. And afterwards we had the pleasure of picnicking near the ruins of the Abbaye de Bon Repos before rushing back to Plessala to cheer on our competitors in the 10K run, and then to go into the park to eat, drink, listen to the music, and finally gasp at the fireworks provided by the retained fire service. Sunday was also a day for consolidating friendships, culminating in a buffet accompanied by music – provided by both sides – to suit the mood. The Entente CordiALE we took from Stroud Brewery was quaffed with due respect, and the visit finished with our usual, mutual, feelings of great affection and gratitude.

dry lake
On the bed of the lake

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Abbaye de Bon Repos We gather for the picnic Picnic by the Abbaye

Abbaye de Bon Repos

We gather for the picnic

Picnic by the Abbaye

Twinning is hard work The runners are twinned Runners in the Park

Twinning is hard work

The Runners are twinned

Runners in the Park

Twinning is hard work On! On! The runners arrive - not quite

Twinning is hard work

On! On!

The runners arrive - not quite

Life on the farm Party in the Park Party in the Park

Life on the farm

Party in the Park

Party in the Park

Eating again for England ...and again The Biere Anglaise

Eating again for England

...and again

The Biere Anglaise

We play and play Party on..

We play

and play

and Party on..

So many of our members this time have said how overwhelmed they were by the great atmosphere of friendship, which proved yet again what a valuable thing such an organization is at a time when international relations are rocky. We also never dismiss the importance the Twinning has had in the lives of local people – members on both sides have said that they joined originally in the hope of making new acquaintances and friends at home as well as abroad – a hope that has always been fulfilled.

There are many members who neither visit nor host, but their involvement through the year aids those who do, and in the process everyone has a good time. Anyone interested in finding out how to join the Bisley-with-Lypiatt Twinning Association should call Muriel or Bob Brooks on 01452 770346, or Sue Hunt on 01285 760429.

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Visit by the Plessaliens 28th May - 1st June 2014

The villages of Bisley, Eastcombe and Oakridge were host to a party of 27 from our twin village of Plessala in Brittany this year. The guest's ages ranged from 10 to 86, and the French visitors stayed with local families. Joint events were organised, a Skittles evening on the Thursday night at The Stirrup Cup, a Barn Dance at Oakridge Village Hall on the Friday night, but otherwise host families arranged excursions with their guests and dinner parties in groups. As well as attending Bisley's Well Dressing, which had good coverage in our local newspapers, trips included to the SS Great Britain, Giffords Circus, tea at Chavenage House, Hidcote NHS Garden, Chedworth Roman Villa, a falconry display and a very competitive multi-lingual team assault on the Hare Trail in Cirencester!

We waved the French party off with coffee and cakes at The Lamb, Eastcombe, early on Sunday morning. The twinning is thriving and is in its 22nd year, with members looking forward to next year’s reciprocal trip to Brittany.

Parade to the Wells
The parade to the Wells
Gautier and Laure in their Breton dress Skittles at The Stirrup Cup
Skittles at The Stirrup Cup

Gautier and Laure in their Breton dress

Skittles at The Stirrup Cup Barn Dance at Oakridge SS Great Britain

Skittles at The Stirrup Cup

Barn Dance at Oakridge

SS Great Britain in Bristol

SS Great Britain Coffee and cakes at The Lamb Coffee and cakes at The Lamb

SS Great Britain

Coffee and cakes at The Lamb


The French Coach We say goodbye Goodbye again


We say goodbye


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Visit to Plessala July 2013

The Twinning Association has again enjoyed a wonderful visit to Plessala in Brittany, staying with local families and joining in the festivities around Bastille Day on 14 July. On Saturday there was an outing to Paimpol, followed by a trip on a steam train along the bank of the Trieu river to the picturesque village of Pontrieu - and back - with a hearty lunch laid on between journeys. In the evening there was the usual 'Firemen's Ball' (this year a supper of moules/frites); and on Sunday the solemn commemorative ceremony at the war memorial was followed immediately by a renewal of the oath with which the two twinning organizations were instituted 20 years ago. Afterwards there was a great open-air party all afternoon with a bar that included our offering of Stroud Celebration Ale, and a lunch of paella followed by two birthday cakes, one an immense iced fruit cake contributed by the visiting team. Amidst all this eating and drinking we were also given huge family suppers on Friday and Sunday, which made the very early morning starts even harder to handle. The weather was tremendously hot, so we must hope that our other present - Hidcote lavender plants and a rose named 'Special Occasion' - survives the drought. Out hosts noted the suggestion that these were planted near the Millennium Wheel, by the lake in the park, in memory of Anita Reardon, its creator.

Welcome drinks at Maison Philomene Boarding the train in Paimpol The steam engine

Welcome drinks at Maison Philomene

Boarding the train in Paimpol

The steam engine

The Trieu estury Pontrieu Taxi from the station

The Trieu estuary


Taxi from the station

Lunch in Pontrieu Fun in Pontrieu More distractions

Lunch in Pontrieu

Fun in Pontrieu

More distractions...

Moules frites at the Firemen's Ball The Pompiers on parade The War Memorial

Moules frites at the Firemen's Ball

The Pompiers on parade

The War Memorial

The salute The Twinning Oath is renewed The Firemen queue for Biere Anglaise

The salute

The Twinning Oath is renewed

The Firemen queue for Biere Anglaise

Paella all round Eating again for England The Band plays on

Paella all round

Eating again for England

The Band plays on

The anniversary cake More cake... Twenty years of friendship

The anniversary cake

More cake...

Twenty years of friendship

We say goodbye Back on the boat Hot work on the journey home

We say goodbye

Back on the boat

Hot work on the journey home

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Visit by the Plessaliens for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee 2nd - 5th June 2012

Welcomed at Eastcombe Village Hall with a drink and a sandwich, 37 Breton visitors (including the bus driver) arrived about 9pm on the Saturday night - and went more or less straight to bed. The festivities were packed into Sunday and Monday, with the villages of Bisley, Eastcombe and Oakridge individually supplying plenty to do and see.

A wet welcome Yes - it's British beer! Flags a flying

 A wet welcome

Yes - it's British beer!

Flags a flying

Party on the green Twinning is hard work The Jubilee Beacon

Party on the green

Twinning is hard work

The Jubilee Beacon 

We say goodbye and it's back on the bus  

We say goodbye

and it's back on the bus


One group of French people attended morning service/café church in All Saints, Bisley, and said the Lord's Prayer in French (as well as making crowns, decorating cakes, etc). Christine Roncin forgot she was wearing her bejewelled paper crown when she went into the village shop, and was most impressed by the British sangfroid which greeted her appearance. Most of us watched TV in the afternoon to see the flotilla of 1000 boats escort HMQ down the Thames in central London, and in the evening we all joined in a party at The Daneway. The torrential rain failed to spoil the fun, and we all enjoyed the food, drink and music organized by hosts Liz and Richard Goodfellow. The rain also failed to stop groups of French and English friends planting commemorative fruit trees in all three villages.

Both Eastcombe and Bisley held their communal feasts on Monday afternoon, a great success, and in the evening there was a band at The Lamb Inn - and a spectacular bonfire and fireworks to round things off, courtesy of Dave and Deirdre Starkey who welcomed us on to their field.

The Lamb provided coffee and cakes before the 10.30am departure of the French coach on Tuesday morning, concluding a very happy and successful visit.

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Visit to Plessala, July 2011

Getting up at dawn to catch the first Portsmouth - Caen ferry of the day did not seem an auspicious way to start a Twinning trip; but the combination of soothingly smooth driving by Beavis bus driver Chris, a flat calm Channel, sunshine in France, good companions, and a hearty welcome in Plessala meant that we all went to bed happy on the last Friday of July.

Welcome at the Mairie

The weather was really hot so the community ramble on Saturday was a lttle gruelling and necessitated certain dehydrated people disappearing into the bar, but a worthy few made the tour of the really admirable retirement home into which the Plessala commune has put much thought, effort and money. Similarly on Sunday morning we applauded the cooperative efforts which made possible an rapeseed oil processing plant (for vinaigrette or tractors), and a wood-chip furnace in a neighbouring village which heats 11 old people's bungalows, the village hall, potentially the primary school, etc.

We had actually been invited for that weekend because it was Plessala's fete - cycle races, 5Km and 10Km road runs, a funfair in the street, sausages and galettes in the park coupled with music from an eight-strong sea shanty band and, at 11.30, the famous fireworks. How lucky Plessala is to have a lake in which to reflect fireworks and a community which turns out together in great good humour to party in the park into the early hours...

Plessala gets going Party in the park Party in the park

 Plessala gets going

Party in the park

 Party in the park

Party in the park Bang! Eating for England

 Party in the park


 Eating for England

..and again Walking it off

 .. and again

Walking it off


We are grateful to our hosts for the leisurely Sunday lunch all together, and for the individual hospitality - trips to the coast, walks, dinner parties - that we all enjoyed. Our gift to Plessala this year was a collection of produce from the Stroud area, some bric-a-brac and some books, to aid them in their fund-raising Anglo-French fete to be held on 18 September. We sent preserves, cider, wine, honey, soaps - and well known French favourites (not) Marmite and horseradish sauce. Stroud beer will be taken over in September. There are apparently about 100 British households around Plessala, so the twinning now has an additional dimension.

This year it was a small number (23) of us who joined the trip, but we have invited the Bretons to come here for the Queen's Jubilee next year and we hope they will turn out in force. We have a lot of fun in the Twinning Association, principally during the fund-raising events we mount through the year, so if anyone would like to join or simply get more information please telephone Anna Al-Salim on 01453 882703 or Muriel Brooks on 01452 770346.

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French visit 2010
Saturday 3rd - Monday 5th July

Our link with Plessala in Brittany goes from strength to strength with no lessening of enthusiasm on either side. The first weekend of July was, of course, brilliantly sunny which made it easy to entertain our French visitors.

Waving goodbye

They were welcomed at The Butchers Arms on Saturday - many thanks to Jane and staff for the bacon butties, bucks' fizz, smiles and coach parking - and shortly afterwards the French bus took guests and hosts to the Cotswold Show at Cirencester Park. This good start was followed by dinner parties and an early night as we had to be back aboard a bus - excellent Rover this time, with twinning-friendly driver Chris - by 7.30 on Sunday morning.

The French group had requested a visit to London so we obliged. Westminster, Whitehall, Horseguards, Buckingham Palace and St James's Park all looked wonderful under the blazing sun, and although the Changing of the Guard was virtually invisible behind crowds, our picnic in the park and subsequent adventures made for a grand day out.

Individual hosts made individual efforts on Monday, and for some of us this means we have to thank people at The Bear for an excellent lunch, and we are also very grateful for the garden and farm tours.

John and Sarah and staff at The Lamb provided a relaxed venue and a stupendous buffet for about 75 French and British friends on Monday evening, enabling us to round off the visit in style.

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Visit to Plessala, May 2009

Thirty-odd (important hyphen) Twinning Association members took to the waves again in May to further Franco - British entente - or Breton - Gloucestershire understanding, to be more precise. We arrived in St Malo early on a sunny Friday morning, and plans 'to explore properly this time' bit the dust as we lingered over breakfast in welcoming pavement cafes. Back on the bus (a splendid Rover coach) all too soon, for a gentle ride to Plougenast where we had a couscous lunch of amazingly good value: the non-stop carafes of wine would have cost more here than the whole lunch there...

We were welcomed to Plessala in the usual haze of alcohol, mutual congratulation and misunderstanding, and lots of kisses and laughter. Our communal gift this time was azaleas, individually and attractively gift-wrapped by Beth of Gather Me Flowers.

Hands in the trough

The 'kneading of bread' and 'cooking of pizzas' advertised as the entertainment for Saturday turned out to be an outdoor event on a rainy day - but we rolled up our sleeves as instructed and learned how bread used to be made on the farms for and by the family and workforce. The action took place in a semi-derelict watermill, using ancient wooden troughs and lots of muscle power. We ate pizzas (cooked in a wood-fired oven transported on a car trailer) while we huddled under umbrellas, and by then the dough had risen enough for us to take it to a wood-fired oven in another village.

This provided the bread for our communal evening feast back at a primary school in Plessala, the main course being roast pork that had been cooked in the cooling oven after our bread came out. Breton dancing followed, and certain Brits distinguished themselves. All this 'entertainment' was masterminded by volunteers who are keen to keep old skills alive - and we hope to welcome them back here to share our parish's treasures.

Sunday was exhausting - a very hot day. A lot was demanded of us. The first outing was to a microbrewery at Moncontour, where our gift of bottled beers from breweries local (ish) to Stroud was gratefully received. People forced a lot of the cool brew down their throats before going on to the ordeal of a medieval feast that sunk us all (pleasurably). A lucky few then made it to the coast and had a paddle.

The splendid hospitality we are shown in hosts' houses and communally is always well reciprocated when the French come here. The annual membership fee of the Twinning Association is very low, and it gives one access to a year of convivial fund-raising events that add greatly to the fun of living around here, just as the annual visits add to the gaiety of nations. Roll up, roll up! The secretary is Muriel Brooks, 01452 770346.

The bread oven is fired up Ooh la la Medieval lunch beckons

 The bread oven is fired up

Ooh la la

 Medieval lunch beckons

Eating inside ..and out and again!

 Eating inside

 ..and out

 and again!

The brewery Tasting the beer Refreshment at last!

 The brewery

Tasting the beer

 Refreshment at last!

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French visit 2008
Thursday 1 - Saturday 3 May

Bisley-with-Lypiatt Twinning Association has once again enjoyed a wonderful few days with our Breton 'twins'. Eastcombe Scout and Guide Hut proved an excellent venue for the welcoming breakfast, and later the sun shone on us at the Ascension Day service and well-dressing in Bisley. We owe thanks to everyone at All Saints' Church and Bisley CE Primary School for the friendly hospitality.

This year individual hosts organized outings for individual guests, but we all came together again at Oakridge Village Hall for a communal supper and a bit of a knees-up. Mike Davies produced an excellent barn dance band and was an inspired bilingual perhaps it was the endless food and drink that caused the riotous scenes on the dance floor, and not his instructions.

Roger Budgeon at the end of his exhausting week of open days very kindly did yet another guided tour of his remarkable new building at Holbrook Garage and Green Shop, and our French guests were fascinated, knowledgeable, and grateful for the information that Roger provided.

The Butchers Arms at Oakridge Lynch not only tolerated having the French coach in the car park there for the whole visit, but also had a good lunch ready for all 60 of us on Saturday. Those who had any energy left went for an afternoon stroll, and those who had none gave the pub a little extra custom. The visitors left at 4pm with the now-usual emotional farewells, with everyone on both sides looking forward to the next time. The Association is grateful to all who helped make this visit a success. Now we can get back to perpetuating the old joke about our real purpose being to twin Oakridge, Eastcombe and Bisley - the next round of activities will begin in June, we hope. As always, new members will be welcome to join us. The secretary's telephone number is 01452 770346.

Our visitors assemble for Bisley Well Dressing The parade to the Wells Blue Coat School children at the Wells

French visitors assemble for Bisley Well Dressing

 The parade to the Wells

 Blue Coat School children at the Wells

A visit to Arlingham The barn dance gets going at Oakridge Visitors and hosts say goodbye

A visit to Arlingham

 The barn dance gets going at Oakridge Village Hall

 Visitors and hosts say goodbye

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Visit to Plessala 2007

A grand total of 39 members went by coach from Eastcombe, Oakridge, Bournes Green, France Lynch and Bisley to Plessala in Brittany on Thursday, 12 July. The overnight crossing from Portsmouth to St. Malo was calm and comfortable. A couple of hours were spent exploring the old town before continuing on to Ploubalay where we had a fine lunch of Breton pancakes at a restaurant in a converted water tower. The pancakes were delicious and the view of the surrounding countryside was breathtaking. The obligatory pit stop was made at a Plancoet supermarket in order to satisfy the British desire for fine French wines. We met our hosts at 5 o'clock in Plessala, speeches of friendship were made, gifts were exchanged and there was barely time to change before we all sped off to the firemen's celebratory supper of bacon hock and chips (for 500-600) followed by dancing and general merriment.

At mid-day on Saturday, 14 July, we joined in a march by the firemen to the local war memorial, a speech by the Mayor, the presentation of medals and the playing of the Marseillaise, followed by Rule Britannia. We then all adjourned for a 'Vin d'Honneur' in the village hall, followed by a picnic lunch (inside, as it was wet). Later that evening the villagers gathered by the lake to enjoy the 'Biere Anglaise' - a barrel of Budding from Stroud Brewery - followed by a most impressive firework display organised by - yes, that's right - the firemen.

Sunday started with a medieval banquet in an old manor house at lunchtime, followed by a visit to a medieval castle. Sunday evening was spent with our hosts, and at 7.30 Monday morning we were back on the bus to Blighty.

Following a sunlit channel crossing we arrived back in Eastcombe to be greeted by the first of that week's now infamous heavy rain.

Stroud Brewery beer arriving in Plessala

Stroud Brewery beer arrives in Plessala

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Bisley Visit 2006

Since the twinning arrangement was launched in 1993 there has been a regular annual and sometimes bi-annual exchange of visits with Plessala in Brittany. This year 2006 it was their turn to come to us and 32 visitors arrived on Friday evening 25 August. Among them we were particularly pleased to see seven teenagers, all of whom were visiting us for the first time. They will be our progress into the future.

As usual we tried to cram as much as possible into their too-short visit. After welcome drinks, snacks and speeches on their arrival at Eastcombe village hall our guests left for the homes of their hosts, some of whom they had known since the very beginning of the association, some of whom they were meeting for the first time. One teenaged young lady in particular who had insisted that she did not want to stay in the same house as her grandparents (as they do) was looking rather doubtful about staying alone among strangers.

Saturday morning was time for acclimatization and recovery from the journey though some made it down to Stroud Farmers' Market. On Saturday afternoon most of the twinners went to Bisley flower show and fête and in the evening hosts grouped together to entertain their guests to dinner and to prove that at least in Bisley-with-Lypiatt not all the widely held views about British cuisine are true!

In the past we have organized a coach excursion for all participants to a local place of interest. This year we left it to individual hosts or groups to organize separate outings. These varied from shopping trips to the local towns to outings to Alton Towers and Bourton-on-the-Water. All of them seemed to go well and to be appreciated. The high point however was on Sunday evening when the Bisley flower show committee very kindly allowed us to hold a party in their marquee. Many members and friends joined us who were not themselves hosting this year and a wonderful time was had by all. Also the fact that we had not spent the cash which would have paid for the coach excursion allowed us to make a contribution to the flower show funds. One very gratifying memory is of the sight of the teenager mentioned above who had looked rather apprehensive on arrival on Friday evening leaving the 'do' walking between her hosts laughing and chatting animatedly with them; thoroughly enjoying herself. She had met them for the first time on Friday evening and it was her first ever visit to the UK.

But all good things come to an end and this came on Bank Holiday Monday. We all had an excellent lunch together at the Butcher's Arms at Oakridge Lynch followed by a group walk through Strawberry Banks and down to the Frome on a glorious afternoon after which our guests climbed into their coach for the ride home via Portsmouth and the ferry to Saint Malo.

It had been a fun weekend and we now look forward to our visit to Plessala next Summer. Of such building blocks is international understanding made.

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Plessala Visit 2005

A group of 32 people went with Bisley-with-Lypiatt Twinning Association to our twin town, Plessala in Brittany, leaving Eastcombe at 8pm on 18 August and arriving back at 1am on 23 August.

Various snags on the journeys mean it is best to draw a veil over them: the emphasis should be on the fact that as ever we were royally treated by our Breton hosts. On Saturday we visited a pottery in Quimper, and then we went on to a lavish seafood lunch in Audierne (in a restaurant that our hosts described as the last pub before America). There was chance to paddle in the Baie des Trepasses, so named for all the shipwrecked corpses that washed ashore there... lovely... and then it was back to Plessala for a boozy feast of cold meats, followed by grilled sardines at midnight (we are not the only people who don't light the barbecue in time).

On Sunday the Hunters' Feast meant that we again enjoyed a lunch for 600 people in the sports hall, with sausages and belly pork and beef boiled with vegetables in great cauldrons in the car park! Needless to say kir and cider and wine flowed freely for the three days of our visit, and sleep was in short supply. Eating and drinking for England is very exhausting but we left covered in glory - and if anyone thinks they could bear this sort of excess then do join the Twinning Association in time for the return match next year when the gastronomic joys of Gloucestershire will be proudly displayed, along with a few of our other treasures.

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Plessala Visit 1993

Our first visit to Plessala was in April 1993 when we took the ferry to St.Malo, arriving in time for breakfast and a chance to explore this ancient town on the Brittany coast. We then headed for Moncontour before arriving in Plessala to a warm welcome. The following morning we gathered at the Mairie for the Twinning Ceremony. First the Union Jack was raised and the National Anthem played, then the French Tricolore accompanied by the Marseillaise. Following the speeches in French and English the Charter was signed by our Chairman, Tony Newman, and the Mayor of Plessala, Paul Guiguen. This was followed by a Vin d'Honneur in the Salle des Fetes and a delicious formal lunch.

The flags are hoisted   The Charter is signed
The Flags are hoisted  The Charter is signed

In the afternoon we were taken on an excellent conducted tour of the commune and even got to see the 'Plessala Wheel'. The Sunday was spent with our host families who showed us so many interesting local places and events, including the traditional Breton dancing to celebrate the Festival of Coquille St Jacques at Erquay.

The Plessala Wheel   On the coast with our hosts
Breton Dance   Breton Music

On Monday morning we headed off back across the channel.

The Twinners all at sea

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Bisley Visit 1993

At the end of August that year we welcomed our Plessalian guests on their first return visit.

Welcome at The Stirrup Cup Our Chairman Tony Newman gives a speech to welcome the Mayor of Plessala, Paul Guiguen Monique Richard replies

Welcome at The Stirrup Cup

Our Chairman Tony Newman gives a speech
to welcome the Mayor of Plessala, Paul Guiguen

Monique Richard replies

A speech from Simone Darcel The Twinning agreement is confirmed And the bells are rung

A speech from Simone Darcel

The Twinning agreement is confirmed

And the bells are rung

The Bisley Flower Show & Fete was held that weekend and the Mayor of Plessala was asked to judge the Fancy Dress competition.

Viewing the Flower Show exhibits An entry from Plessala Back on the bus to Plessala

Viewing the Flower Show exhibits

An entry from Plessala

Back on the bus to Plessala

Twinning Charter 1993 English Twinning Charter 1993 French

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