Didcot and Meylan
At first sight it is not obvious what links Didcot (Oxfordshire) with Meylan (Isere) or how they come to be twinned.
Didcot, situated in rolling farmland between the Thames valley and the Berkshire Downs, started life as a railway town and today’s rail passengers probably recognise the town by the iconic cooling towers of its power station. Meylan, lying in the Isere valley between the massifs of the Chartreuse and Belledonne, has its origins in farming and its most recognisable building is the Clos des Capucins, an ancient convent which now belongs to the municipality. In fact, what these communities share is a high concentration of world class science research facilities, providing excellent employment prospects, but putting pressure onto the housing markets in both regions. Twinning has allowed us to compare how such pressures are mitigated in France and the UK which, while highlighting differences in local government in the two countries, provides new insights. Twinning, however, is mostly about people not institutions.
Visiting Meylan, we’ve seen the stunning and sometimes harsh beauty of the mountains and learned the fascinating history of the nearby city of Grenoble. The Meylannais delight in south Oxfordshire’s open views across the countryside, our thatched cottages, village pubs and the chance to visit our local university town, Oxford. Our hosts have shown us the home of the Chartreuse liqueur, walnut production, vineyards, caves and a hydroelectric station (to mention a few) while we have proudly shown off our Steam Railway Museum, iron age hill forts and visited a beekeeper. Our most bizarre twinning experience? It has to be ‘competitive folk singing’, when residents of the two towns, after an excellent dinner with copious wine, serenaded each other in turn with their favourite traditional songs. As befits a twinning event, the outcome was a draw.
Sue Totterdell, Twinning Committee Communications Officer.