Not even the threat of a fire could dampen spirits when a 48 strong French party made a twinning visit to Penicuik recently.
The group, consisting of people of all ages, was visiting from L'Isle sur la Sorgue during the official 30th anniversary year.
The theme of this year's visit was music although the party included a group of table tennis players, who were renewing their friendships with the Scots who had visited them in 2006.
The musicians visited and worked with Mauricewood, Cornbank, Sacred Heart and Strathesk Primary Schools and they also collaborated with Beeslack and Penicuik High Schools to produce a one hour concert.
However, the concert, in Penicuik High School, had to be abandonned before the halfway point.
A workman's portaloo was set on fire in the vicinity of the school and smoke entering the building set off the fire alarm.
As a result the building had to be evacuated although the concert hall was unaffected.
Good news followed when the after-concert meal, including an impromptu jam session, went ahead at Jean's Place in the Penicuik precinct.
Visits during the stay included Rosslyn Chapel, the Scottish Mining Museum, Glenkinchie Distillery, and the Pentland Hills.
Table tennis matches were held at Ladywood Leisure Centre, under Tom MacKenzie's expert supervision, and there was tremendous, friendly rivalry on the Wednesday and Thursday evenings.
All of this was possible through the work of a large number of people.
The Penicuik/L'Isle sur la Sorgue Twinning Committee is grateful to the following — manager Lorenzo, Sue and Sharon of the Craigiebield Hotel (where the party were staying), Penicuik primary and secondary schools, and music teachers Ros Hay, Keith Murphy and Joan Fraser, who organised the rehearsals and lent instruments.
Mayor will arrive
Thanks go to Gillian MacIntosh of the South Church Hall, David Begg of Penicuik Folk Club, Fergus Waters at the mining museum, and Jean Crawford of Jean's Place.
Thanks also to Midlothian Twinning Association, whose chairman John Ramsay welcomed the party on arrival and secretary Bob Atack, who arranged the welcome meal and receptions in Penicuik and at Midlothian Council.
The next twinning event will be in August when another party including L'Isle's mayor will arrive in Penicuik.
This will be the official 30th celebration.
On this occasion, the guests will be hosted in local homes.
The committee has almost reached the required number of host families but do need a few more.
If you can assist please contact Lis on 01968 678278 or Sheila on 677036 for any information.
There will be a get-together for all hosting families this month.
There will be a party going to L'Isle in October to join in their celebrations.
If you would like to be included, please call as soon as possible on the above numbers.