Weil am Rhein and Trebbin visit to Bognor Regis, August 2010

Boats on Bognor beach In 2010 it was again the turn of Bognor Regis to host a visit from the German twin towns, Weil am Rhein and Trebbin. A party of approx. 25 people from each town arrived early on Tuesday 17th August at Gatwick Airport. The early arrival meant an extra day’s sightseeing, and the guests enjoyed a visit to Wisley Gardens and Guildford Cathedral before arriving in Bognor to be met by their hosts.

As usual a very full programme had been arranged, but the first evening is always spent “at home” so that guests and hosts can get to know each other or renew old friendships or acquaintances and enjoy a meal.

Choosing lunch It was an early start the following morning for a trip by coach to Brighton. A guided tour of the Royal Pavilion was first on the programme in a packed day. The German visitors were issued with audio guides set to German, which was much appreciated. After the visit the party moved on to Day’s Chinese Restaurant nearby, where the group enjoyed a generous lunch. There was time to explore some of the area around the Pavilion, in particularly The Lanes, before heading back home for the evening reception.

Outside the new Regis School The reception this year was held in the brand new Regis School. Following the official speeches, exchange of gifts and the buffet, staff at the school was on hand to give a guided tour of the new building. It was an excellent choice of venue and everyone was much impressed by the new building and its facilities.

On Thursday the group went to London to see the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, followed by a picnic in St. James Park. With a visit to the Cabinet War Rooms in the afternoon and time to explore some of the area afterwards, it was another full day and the party did not get home until about 9.00 pm!

The Mill on Halnaker Hill The Committee had decided to offer a choice of activities on the Friday, and these included a visit to Boxgrove Priory followed by a walk up Halnaker Hill, a visit to Pallant House in Chichester and/or a Wall Walk – on the ancient Chichester Walls, or a combination of these. This was much appreciated and may well be repeated next year.

The Twinning Reception took place as usual on the Friday evening, in St Mary Magdalene Church Hall in North Bersted. Guests and hosts enjoyed a generous buffet provided by the Association, and listened to the musical entertainment: “Traditional Music of Britain and Ireland played on Unusual Instruments” by Joy Lewis and Derrick Hughes.

The usual committee meeting took place on the Saturday morning, after which guests spent the day with their hosts. It is always interesting to hear what everybody has done, and this year quite a few of us met in Arundel on the Art Trail. Others visited Portsmouth, always a popular destination, Petworth House or other well-known local places of interest.

Young guests In addition to the parties of 25 people from both the German Twin Towns, the Association had invited two young people each from Weil am Rhein and Trebbin to encourage youth involvement. Much thought went into the selection of the four young people and Bognor Regis Twinning Association went to great lengths to find counterparts locally. Although the young people did not know each other beforehand, they formed immediate friendships and spent a most enjoyable week in Bognor Regis as guests of the Association. The representatives of the German towns indicated that they would try to reciprocate. The Association hopes that this initiative will lead to further involvement from younger people in all three towns.

Leaving Bognor Regist Railway Station Sunday was as usual the day for departure. However, the combined group had expressed an interest in travelling to Gatwick Airport by train, and therefore the farewells took place at Bognor Regis Railway Station rather than the car park. As trains, unlike coach drivers, don’t wait, they may not have been quite as lengthy as on previous occasions!

The weather let us down at times, but threatening skies and less than summery weather did not dampen the spirits and the visit was pronounced a success by all. We all look forward to the next visit in 2013