This is a little bit of a different post, because I don’t recall the school trip to France that I began the story of on Wednesday with so much clarity that each incident will make for a post in its own right, but these are the little vignettes that I do remember:
An early incident of a joke comment being taken too seriously, when my mock exclamation of “Everything’s in French” as we drove through Le Havre was seized upon by Miss Symonds, the French teacher, and used in the opening of the special assembly that we did about the trip on our return as if it was a genuinely daft comment by one of us.
Causing consternation among pupils and teachers by standing outside some large iron gates and barking back at the dogs inside, having completely failed to notice the signs saying ‘Chiens mechant’ affixed to said gates.
Croissants and huge bowls of hot chocolate and/or coffee for breakfast each morning. Delicious to begin with, but I was definitely craving cornflakes by the end of the week.
My first introduction to snails as a dinner option. I wasn’t impressed. Amanda Gale was, and ate so many that she spent the evening throwing up.
Also, my first introduction to creme de menthe. For some reason, we were allowed to drink the sweet, minty, green liquid on a trip to a cafe on one of the first days we were out there. For an even more inexplicable reason, I was the one sent into the shop with the order. That happened a lot on this trip. With hindsight, I see this as even more evidence of what an incompetent prat my later French teacher, Mme Davey, was. Clearly, the teachers regarded me as being able to converse with the locals in a very limited way and certainly in a way that I couldn’t do now.
A visit to the beach at Arromanches, one of the sites of the Normandy landings during World War II, and seeing the concrete bunkers erected by the German forces to house guns. I find it funny how this has stuck in the memory of a child who never had any real interest in soldiers or playing war games.
Walking around a traditional French street market and, from all of the things that I could have bought, buying a badminton set!
A trip to Mont Saint Michel, the rock topped with a church that is just off the coast of France. We were warned that the prices in the shops became cheaper as you get higher up the rock, so I waited until I was almost at the top before going and buying what was probably the first in a long line of rubbish presents that I have bought for people – an eggcup for Karen, my sister, who (at the time at least) didn’t like boiled eggs.
Visiting a Calvados distillery (if that is the right word for it). Again, another odd thing to do with a bunch of ten year olds, but at the same time proof of how determined the staff were to give us the full experience of our trip across the Channel.
‘Bod Hats’, the knitted woolly hats with hooped patterns that somehow became a fashion item on that trip.
Nick Quinn and Amanda Gale snogging on the back seat of the coach but still splitting up before the holiday was over.
Panicking that Nick was going to fall overboard as he balanced on the deck rail of the ferry for our group photo on the journey home.
And finally, the thing that I don’t remember. The town that we all stayed in, Bernières-sur-Mer. I think it was a fairly quaint old town, but I really don’t recall much of it at all. I guess I was having too much fun elsewhere.