Saturday, May 31, 2008

Bourton on Sea Twinning Association 1

I’ve recently became involved with the Bourton on Sea Twinning Association.

It has absolutely nothing to do with Kitchen Gardening, but just in case you’re interested I’ll post the first few blogs on here as well.

The new address for the Bourton on Sea Blog is :

Bourton on Sea is a small town in England with about 5000 inhabitants. Not much more than a village really, although for administrative purposes it comes under the bigger area of Bourton, which includes some other small villages and has a population of nearer 25,000. This is quite significant in a local authority of only 92,000. England is divided into counties and then each county is divided into local authorities. In the case of Bourton, it is one of six local authorities forming the county

I’m giving you all this regional information so that you can get an idea in your mind of where the Bourton on Sea Twinning Association fits into the local political scene.

Now some of you might be thinking, but I thought Ian lived in France? Well, I do! I got sort of co-opted into this job so that I could become the "man on the spot! So to speak.

For some time now, Bourton on Sea has been actively seeking a twinning partner.

Now, I don’t know a lot about town twinning and I’m not sure how much of it goes on outside Europe. But the basic philosophy is pretty simple to understand. Two communities make an agreement to work together to develop common aims. In Europe this is usually bound up in the aim of fostering better friendship and understanding between international communities.

Now, in Britain, twinning associations fall into two broad categories; local authority led twinning or community led twinning and Bourton on Sea Twinning Association is proud to be a community led twinning organisation.

This is almost like the difference between professional and amateur twinning, Local authority led twinning will be effected by local officers on expenses paid trips to their twin organisation.

Community led twinning will usually be run by a small committee of dedicated enthusiasts who essentially will pay for themselves to travel to the twin town.

This is a broad oversimplification but serves us well here as that is exactly what happens, or should I say, will happen, with our friends at Bourton on Sea.

Bourton on Sea Twinning Association has formed itself, held an inaugural meeting and formed a committee. That committee has agreed to meet once a month or more often if necessary and has elected a chair. A man called John. There are five other people on the committee at the moment but only Jeanette has a specific job.- Secretary.

There is only one small problem with the Bourton on Sea Twinning Association and that is quite simple, it hasn’t yet found a partner community to twin with.

Now to most people this would seem to be a major setback. Bourton on Sea isn’t that kind of town. Bourton on Sea folks are not those kind of folks. No, they have decided to twin and they have set up their organisation with the specific intention of twinning. Now they are going to go out and find a suitable community.

So John has arranged a meeting and the six committee members will all attend. There are two items on the hurriedly hand-written agenda handed out at the end of the inaugural meeting.
Agenda Item I - Possible Twinning Partner Communities
Agenda Item 2 - Any Other Business.

I can’t say whether it is simply because I’m an old cynic or what. But I thought it was very interesting that John had these agenda in his pocket when he arrived at the meeting! Like I said, maybe I’m just an old cynic.

Of course, John is a busy man. He works for himself for a big organisation. He always tells me he works for himself and then explains that he has only one customer, because they provide all the work he can handle.

John is also the village computer expert – self appointed.

One thought, do you mind if I refer to Bourton on Sea as a village. I simply can’t bring myself to call a place the size of BoS anything else.. I know that technically it’s a town but…. Thanks.

We now fast forward just over two weeks to the night of the "meeting"

John and his wife have prepared coffee and biscuits – always an essential if you’re going to have a truly British committee meeting and have cleared the dining room table and put six chairs around it. There is one chair at one end, three on one side and 2 on the other side. The end of the table nearest the door doesn’t have a chair at it.

Tony and Derek are first to arrive. Tony lives outside the village and passes Derek’s house on his way to John’s. They are old friends.

Tony is a fisherman. No, I should say, Tony is the fisherman.

For several years now there has only been one fishing boat working out of Bourton on Sea – Tony’s. He goes out into the bay and lands his catch most mornings. It’s quite a sight for the tourists who flock to the town in summer. If you are down on the beach at about half past seven in the morning, you’ll see Tony drive his 21 ft (6.5m) boat directly onto the beach. If you really study him, you’ll notice the expertise with which he pilots his boat. You can see him aim at the beach, with the outboard running as fast as it can. Then, as the bottom rushes up to meet him, he flips his big outboard up out of the water at the same time as cutting the power . Before the boat has even ground to a halt on the sand, he has hopped over the side, in his wellingtons, and waded ashore with his line, directly up the beach to his winch. Lesser men would have given up years ago, but not Tony. He's done it the same way, every day, every year for years.

Derek is still taking his coat off when Tony empties his first coffee and signals to John for permission to take another cupful.

"Fine coffee, John, but I’m afraid the first cup didn’t even touch the sides. I only got back in about half hour ago and I more or less turned and ran straight down here." he said as he poured the second coffee, also pouring one for Derek who was now taking a seat beside him at the table.

John, sat in the single chair at the ends of the table, with his coffee and enquired, "Just got back then. Where’ve you been?"

Tony looked up and smiled with a mouthful of coffee and Derek replied, "He’s been over to Plym Estuary to look at a new boat!"

"Well, it weren’t new," interjected Tony, "more ‘an 20 years old but it was that GRP and they go for ever. That old aluminium tub of mine is celebrating forty next year and it’s getting time to pension it off"

Jeanette who had arrived during this conversation poured herself a coffee and joined in "There’s nothing wrong with that boat of yours, Tone and there’s no point in spending thousands and thousands on a new one when you can’t even afford proper repairs to your nets and pots"

The conversation broke into several threads as the other 2 members of the committee arrived and took their places around the table

John offered the biscuits round, topped up everyone’s coffee and then called the meeting to order.


Kate said...

Very English. The start of another BBC series, I hope! Always my favourites.

Patrick said...

Hi Ian,

This is a great topic to make a post about! It's always nice to hear about the personal side of garden bloggers. Good luck with the twinning work.

If you change the setting to allow comments non Google/Blogger people, I'll probably leave a comment sometimes on your new blog!

When I went to look at the new blog, I clicked n the traffic map and saw 50% of the traffic so far had been from France and the other 50% from the Netherlands.