A tree-mendous way to celebrate three decades of happy twinning

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Members of Horncastle’s Twinning Association are back on home ground - after a highly successful visit to Bonnetable in France.

The latest annual exchange involved a midnight start when a luxury coach left Stanhope Hall bound for Bonnétable near Le Mans in North West France.

Arriving late in the afternoon - in temperatures of 36°C - the 35-strong Horncastle group were welcomed by their French hosts.

The following day, it was an early start for a trip to the impressive Abbey of Fontevraud, the burial place of Eleanor of Aquitaine, the powerful Queen to Henry ll and her son Richard the Lionheart.

It was hard to imagine the beautifully restored World Heritage Site had until 1963 been one of the toughest prisons in France.

The group moved on to some wine caves and a chance to explore the old city of Samur on the River Loire. In the evening they enjoyed a magnificent dinner underground in a cave.

The highlight of Saturday was a concert sung by La Chorale Bonnétablienne and 11 members of the Banovallum Singers, led by Maureen Gay.

The performance was followed by the formal planting of an English oak tree in the Parc de Chateau, a public park in the town centre.

The tree - which marks 30 years of twinning between the two towns- was planted jointly by the Mayor of Bonnétable Frederic Barre and the chairman of Horncastle Twinning Association Andrew Poole, under the watchful eye of the chairman of the French town’s twinning committee Aurelia Dupont.

The day finished with another dinner and karaoke at Bonnétable’s magnificent Salle Melusine.

Sunday was spent in the company of the hosts and their families, walking, shopping and for a surprising number a visit to the local ‘brocante’ (junk sale) before a 4am start for the return journey.

•Membership of the Association is free and open to residents in the Horncastle area. As well as the exchanges, the association organises social events to raise funds for their ‘twin’s’ visit next summer. Details 01507 523558.