Round Table, as an organisation, was originally created in the UK, with Norwich being the first Table created in 1927. However, it is now a thriving international organisation, with Tables in many countries around the world.
One of our Aims and Objects is, in fact, “To further establishment of peace and goodwill in international relations”; it is safe to say that the members from St Albans certainly did that in September 2015.
St Albans Round Table is twinned with clubs in Sweden (Karlstad), Germany (Trier), Netherlands (Kromme Rijn) and France (Vernon). Each year, one of these take it in turn to invite members from the other countries. This year, the members of Table Ronde Française in Vernon were showing their hospitality by receiving us in their beautiful home town in Normandy.
Seven of us drove from St Albans in a couple of cars, leaving early on the Friday morning and arriving later that day, enjoying a lunch of mussels by the water on the way. As a group, we meet a couple of times a month in St Albans, but I can say that all of us enjoy the experience of getting to know each other better on a road trip among friends.
The French contingent showed us their hospitality by organising a great welcome party, featuring a food truck of local prize winning sausages and opening bottles of home-made Calvados. Despite having over 30 guests, they even managed to host us all in their own homes.
On Saturday morning, we were lucky enough to be welcomed by Sébastien Lecornu, Mayor of Vernon, who offered us a drink of Normandy cider and lovely champagne in the very grand Town Hall. A boat trip to view the historic riversides of Vernon was a perfect way to relax, before a meeting to do the formal exchange of presents (and featuring the no less traditional banter). Saturday evening was the traditional “gala dinner” and the talent contest, where each country puts together some competition or performance: the Dutch even had us all singing (in Dutch). It was a great evening which caused a few tired faces at the brunch the following morning, as we gathered together one last time to say ‘good-bye’ to our new (and not so new) friends after a wonderful weekend.
We’re looking forward to next year’s journey to the Netherlands to meet our international friends again or, even, to seeing some as they make the detour to St Albans when they come and visit London in the coming months.