Eight members from Mülheim DFR have now been for their visit to Darlington NCW. It was an enjoyable few days, being able to renew acquaintances, show them parts of our beautiful and interesting country and exchange ideas and information.
Food ranged from eating at the ancient Lord Crewe Arms in Blanchland, to fish and chips in the local pub. On the first day we had a morning with the Mayor of Darlington. Some DFR members had already met him when he was on a visit to Mülheim. Lunch was at the local further education college which was cooked by the students and we were later shown around the facilities which are really impressive, followed by a lively discussion about issues which we found affected both our countries. The light-hearted end to the day was a Beetle Drive – trying to explain that to our visitors provided a great deal of amusement! The Botanical Gardens and Oriental Museum in Durham were next on the agenda, which included lunch in a polytunnel followed later by fish and chips in the Spotted Dog. On the last day, after a morning visiting members’ homes, we congregated at the Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle, where we lunched, and, after seeing the famous Silver Swan in action, we had a guided tour round part of that impressive building. The whole visit was rounded off by a final dinner at a local hotel.
Throughout all this we enjoyed discussions, exchanged information, ideas and concerns about our own countries. We found that we had similar issues – the aging population and the funding of care; the numbers of women prisoners –we learnt that there were fewer women imprisoned in Germany and that here it is becoming quite an issue with the repercussions that it has on the family unit. We also heard about integrating the influx of immigrants, applicable in both Germany and in the UK. The Mülheim members were interested to hear about the formation and growth of the National Council of Young Women (NCYW) and both agreed that it is hard to attract new, younger people to our groups. One surprising comment was about the cleanliness of the college in Darlington; they said that in Germany there would have been more untidiness and graffiti – we thought that it would be the other way round!
We loved renewing friendships, sharing experiences and enjoying much laughter. We hope our special relationship with Mülheim DFR will continue for many more years.