Slovenian Society Host Twinning Picnic at New Hayrack

The British-Solvene Society hosted a picnic on Saturday at the recently installed hayrack on Gillotts Field and guests enjoyed some traditional Slovenian food including Prebranac (a bean, onion and paprika dish) served with Pereci spiral bread, Slovenian smoked and dried deer sausage and cherry cake.

Marcus Ferrar from the British-Slovene Society said, “It’s great to have our first picnic here, the weather hasn’t been very encouraging but we hope more people will join us. It is a great way of getting together with people in Henley. It’s a nice turn out of people taking an interest from Henley and so it makes us feel really welcome here. I think we can build on this and have an annual event.” Marcus’ wife Evelina added, “There is a long tradition of generations of farmers meeting at the hayracks and sharing food together. We’ve brought the new chair which was made by the father of the hayrack builder. Normally it would be at a higher level so that the farmers could climb up and sit on it to add the hay at the top.”

The relationship started between Bled and Henley in 2011 when the then Henley Mayor, Pam Phillips welcomed a delegation from Bled who said that Bled was so like Henley. Pam said, “I said to the Bled Mayor, Janez Fajfar to make conversation, the only thing I know about Slovenia was that when I was child (about 5) a Yugoslavian girl came to stay with us and her nickname was Doodie and I described her. He replied I think I know her and it turns out he did! When we went over a year or two later he arranged for me to meet her! It is unbelievable in the country of that size! Evelina wasn’t surprised. She said, “It seems in Slovenia, you either talk directly to the person or there is a connection between just one other person.”

Former Henley Mayor, Liz Hodgkin said, “In my mayoral year that followed, the world rowing championships took place in Bled and that year another delegation came to Henley Royal Regatta and we had afternoon tea with them there. We started saying why don’t we twin and what a great idea it would be. We had a lovely ceremony in the town hall in 2013 and were invited to Bled the year after that. The Henley Symphony orchestra have been over to perform in 2016, it would be lovely if perhaps the Henley Choral Society or the Aliquando Choir organised a visit.”

Laura, originally from Slovenia said, “I moved from Slovenia last September because my husband got a job at the John Radcliffe hospital. We met Evelina and Marcus and they invited us to a cup of tea and we’ve done lots of things together since. It’s our second time here in Henley. We came last weekend to the town and walked along the river. The hayrack is not so typical to our part of our Slovenia but it reminds us of home and I really like the location. They have planted a Linden tree next to it which is a typical Slovenian tree which is nice too.”

Mayor of Henley, Councillor Michelle Thomas said, “I’m delighted to be here today to welcome the British-Slovene Society. Unfortunately the Mayor of Bled is devastated that he can’t be here today as he is marrying a couple in Bled today which is one of his duties. It was delayed because of the pandemic. It’s a typical British day with a gazebo blowing in the wind and we’ve got our umbrellas but everyone has been really really warm today and it’s fantastic to meet so many people, who have either moved to the UK or married Slovenians. I think twinning now more than ever is really important since the pandemic, the war in the Ukraine and Brexit. I think it’s got an important part to play and I do wish and hope that more people get involved.”