Gauting Exchange September 2014

 This year it was the turn of Gauting, Bavaria, to visit Patchway.
It has been a very long time since our friends were last here because they were so busy celebrating their 40th anniversary with Clermont L'Herault, Langeudoc.
On Thursday 18th September our guests left Gauting at 6am and travelled by Easyjet from Munich to Gatwick and then on to Bristol via National Express. We picked them up at Bristol Bus station, not a very pleasant experiance for us or them. Bristol really must do something about their "Gateway to the World" its diabolical.
We had a small civic reception in the Patchway Council Offices and all our very weary freinds were allocated hosts. We then went to our respective homes for a small meal and socialising before we proceeded with our very busy schedule on Friday.
Our first port of call was the new Police Station and Detention Centre in Patchway, nothing like the old police stations scattered around North Bristol, it was very interesting and provided all sorts of faciliies that were not present (available) in the old stations. We would like to thank the Avon and somerset Police Force for this opportunity, it was very rare and I know from feedback that our guests really appreciated the visit. Oh yes and from now on prisoners are not prisoners thay are detainees, wonder if that came from Europe.
We then travelled on to Landsdown by car and took the Park n' Ride into Bath. We had traditional Fish and Chips, well not really traditional as newspaper is no longer considered safe to eat out of.
We took a Hop on Hop off bus from the Abbey on a tour of Bath and as they are equipped with multi lingual commentary devices everyone could understand where we were and the significance of the buildings. It was all over so quickly but it gave us time to see Bath Abbey and have a free "wander time" around the area, baths etc.
Then it was time to go home, again to the hosts, but no rest as we had an appointment at the Youth Club to meet the Patchway Community College students who had attended an International camp in Bavaria, this year, sponsored by our Twin town of Gauting. It was a splendid evening and the sudents had obviously had a "life changing"experiance they will never forget.
On Saturday we had a coach tour of the North Somerset coast, with Alan, a long time twinning member, providing the history and points of interest as we went along. We visited the new marina in Portishead, Clevecon pier with its aspirations for a new conference centre, W-S-M for dinner and on to Cheddar and Burrington and back past Bristol Airport.
Again I don't know where all the time went.!
On saturday evening we had our "Formal" evening, this time back to Filton Golf Club. A big thank you to Ann for making all the arrangements and her friends on the staff for preparing and serving a fantastic dinner. This time we kept the speeches to a minimum as it was a gathering of friends more so than the Franco/German affairs that we had gotten used to.
Gauting has a new Mayor (Burgomeisterein) and her speech was very encouraging as her support for the twinning was there for all to see, of course her English was brilliant as well.
On Sunday we had a conductted tour of Bristol, starting at the top, Wills building, and working our way around and down. It was also the day of the Bristol half marathon so there was plenty of colour and spectacle as well. However all our guests enjoyed themselves and we had a great time. 
Monday was a free day, and our hosts entertained on an individual basis. Some went shopping, some took themselves off into Bristol , some went to Westonbirt Arboretum, Tynsfield House, and one party who's guest wanted to see the "Real Sea" ended up on the Gower Peninsula!
On Tuesday it was time to take our guests back to the bus staion, again not particulary good as they had to be abandoned at the entrance with rude and annoying bus and taxi drivers all creating because I had dared to stop in their slots, although the Patchway Mini-bus is fully registered as a bus, shocking.
The Chairman would like to extend his thanks to all those who hosted guests in their homes this year, without you there could be no true twinning.
Foot note:
We are all aware of the expression "Its a small world" but just how small. One of guests walked into a local florist in Stoke Lodge to buy some flowers for his host.The florist asked where he was from and he replied Gauting , Bavaria, and the florist said "Oh my daughter has just come back from Bavaria, she had a wonderful traditional dinner in somebodies home"
Stefan replied "Ah it was my house,my wife Ruth-Maria cooked for them",.......amazing!!