I was promising to say what I did in France but haven't had time to write anything in detail! It was fairly busy from the supervision point of view. One of the boys somehow and stupidly managed to purchase a pellet gun while we were there - strictly forbidden. He will be dealt with properly when we return to school - I didn't want to wreck the remainder of his vacation by telling his parents about it as soon as we returned, but it's not something we can ignore. Then there was the boy who poured a bottle of water all over a dorm-mate's bed, and another who poured a bottle of Coke all over someone from a balcony. And finally one of my superbly supportive colleagues woke up delirious and with a raging fever and sore throat on her last morning!
However, as usual we managed. The first time I went someone had a detached retina, and once you've coped with that you can do practically anything.
The schedule was much like last year - fifteen hour coach/ferry trip taking us onto the borders of Normandy and Brittany (lucky it wasn't this week, the French fishermen's barricading of the Channel ports would have caused chaos!), outings to Laval market, a French hypermarket, Mont St Michel, St Malo, a small chocolate factory and an animal sanctuary, plus afternoon activity sessions including fencing, archery, zip wire, aeroball, initiative exercises and wall climbing and evening entertainments including a Blind Date session, a treasure hunt, a French quiz, a fancy dress parade, a brief disco and a talent show - with a little bit of extra time devoted to watching Liverpool FC's defeat on Sky Sports on Wednesday. As you can see it is a horrendously packed itinerary, but it's always huge fun. What do I like about it? weeeeelll...
I love getting to know my colleagues better. We were a stunning team this time. I love the sharp air, the occasional moo or bleat and the singing of unfamiliar birds at dawn in the chateau's gorgeous grounds. I love hearing French spoken round me again. I love walking the walls of St Malo with their fantastic vista over the harbour and the narrow streets of Mont St Michel in any weather (it rained this time!). I love the picturesque villages unfolding in our wake as the coach streaks through the countryside. I love choosing gifts for my family, especially at the chocolate shop! I love the food. You'll never get bread and croissants like it, and it's all substantial, very French and delicious. I even love getting the odd text to and from home so I can tell everyone how I'm doing. It's just all really hard work but simultaneously so exhilarating. Nothing like it.
That's as short a description as I can manage. It's a trip that is a nightmare to organise (I took real trouble to arrange a visa waiver for a boy with an Indian passport, only to find out at the very last minute that he was ill and unable to travel) but fun to be on. I imagine I'll be doing it for a while yet!
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"We make our lives out of chaos and hope. And love." - Angela Montenegro