In 2008 the first small group of 6 people were invited to Planegg. Their visit coincided with one from a delegation from Meylan and it was good to have the chance to renew old friendships as well as forging new ones with the people of Planegg. As the visit included May 1st we had the chance to watch the erection of the Planegg maypole, hauled into a vertical position by some strapping firemen. We were struck by how many local people were wearing national costume for this event. Once the maypole was safely up, we had a couple of beers and some food. More beer was on offer at the restaurant at the top of the mountain that we visited the next day. From there we had a wonderful view over the Schliersee and later in the afternoon we were taken on a boat trip on that lake. The scenery all round was magnificent and the painted buildings were beautiful. This first visit also included time to look around the historic city of Munich, just a short train ride away. The civic part of the visit concentrated on celebrating 20 years of twinning between Planegg and Meylan and included a visit to the Parc de Meylan in Planegg, where an artwork created by a collaboration between children in the two towns – all carried out by computer contacts – was unveiled. Before leaving we were invited to lunch at the local fire station.
2009: When the first delegation of 8 people came to Didcot from Planegg we wanted to give them a taste of our area. In addition to a visit to the Rutherford Appleton laboratories, they were shown around Didcot’s Orchard Centre and Cornerstone. The following day they spent some time in Oxford and then attended a reception and dinner with members of the twinning committee and Didcot town councillors.
2010: The ten people who travelled to Planegg in 2010 were able to get to know the town a little better. This included dinner at a beer garden, visits to various town council-run facilities such as the fire station, the library (where we saw how much energy was being generated by the solar panels on its roof), the nursery school and the highways depot. We were also delighted to be invited to Planegg Castle to see their historic chapel and for an aperitif. The following day we had a fascinating visit to the Nymphenburg Palace, located just outside Munich, and in the evening had a delicious meal in a local restaurant. On the last day of our visit we spent the morning at the world famous Oktoberfest, where our Planegg hosts had reserved a table in the tent of their local brewery.
2011: The visit from delegates from Planegg in 2011 was timed to coincide with Didcot’s Street Fair which, although on a smaller scale that the Christmas markets in Germany, is one of the best loved of Didcot’s annual events. Because Planegg is very keen to encourage links between the young people of our two towns, the following day we visted both Didcot Girls’ School and St Birinus. With both schools being specialist language colleges, the Planegg delegates were keen to find out about language teaching in them. The party then moved on to visit both the ambulance and fire stations to learn a little more about how these emergency services are organised in the UK. A dinner for delegates was held in the home of one of the twinning committee members.
2012: In 2012 a small group travelled to Planegg to finalise arrangements for future twinning between the two towns. Again the visit coincided with one from Meylan and we were able to benefit from the three-way links. In addition to spending time with our hosts, the group travelled to the picturesque riverside town of Wasserburg, almost completely surrounded by the river Inn. During the visit there was a chance for newcomers to experience the raising of the maypole, this time with mechanical assistance. At the gala dinner, which marked 25 years of twinning between Planegg and Meylan, there was an exchange of gifts and speeches from the mayors of the three communities. Didcot’s gifts included some commemorative 2012 tee-shirts which were sported as we departed the following day.
2013: In 2013 we were finally able to formalise the twinning with Planegg when, in July, the mayors of Didcot and Planegg signed a twinning charter. To mark the occasion, Didcot presented the Planegg delegation with a unique artwork in glass depicting the south Oxfordshire countryside. Our German visitors also spent time with their hosts – when they had the opportunity to visit local sites of interest, with some venturing a little further away to Stonehenge and Winchester.
The return visit to Planegg to complete the twinning agreement was sadly postponed due to the untimely death of Frau Detsch, mayor of Planegg.