The second leg of the French exchange trip began this morning with an early alarm call at 5.15am. As we went to bed last night Rory said he wouldn’t need a call in the morning as he has an effective internal body clock. Oh how his father and I laughed at this, reminding him of his inability most weekends to surface before noon. Not the same thing at all, he countered.
I went into his room at 5.15 this morning and he told me he had been awake for half an hour so his internal alarm system must have worked. No, I replied, it was the fact that half an hour ago I had been poking about with the boiler as we’d forgotten to set the water to come on early, so he must have heard me.
As we drove him to school I worried we might have the largest case. We had struggled to keep the amount of clothes to a minimum, mainly because I was fretting about temperatures ranging from 4 to 20 degrees for the week, so we had to cater for all possibilities. The fact that the 4 degrees is probably at night didn’t seem to occur to me. I needn’t have worried because, of course, there were teenage girls on the trip and some of their bags were huge.
I tried to make sure Rory had enough socks and pants to avoid Madame Jean-Pierre having to do a midweek wash as I had to when JP was running short. Heaven knows what she would make of Rory’s boxers, as he has a favourite brand, Bawbags. For the uninitiated, ‘bawbags’ is Scottish slang for underpants as they are ‘bags for yer baws’. We came across them in Edinburgh once and then noticed a local shop in Peterborough stocked them. I buy them online now. Great pants, silly designs and they wash well (and no, I’m not getting paid to say that, more’s the pity).
The other consideration I had to make was what gift to include for JP’s maman. She had been kind enough to give me a bottle of extra-virgin olive oil from a local provencal source. I thought long and hard about what to send in return, something typically English but easy to transport in a teenager’s over-stuffed luggage. In the end I nosed about in a local delicatessen and bought a fig and apple chutney plus a weird lemon and whisky marmalade (for the Scottish connection). The fact that nobody in our family has actually tasted them before is now making me nervous. I am picturing my son having a dollop added to his meals as they probably imagine it’s a family favourite. Should have bought her a bottle of ketchup.
I’m rather envious of Rory’s itinerary this week. He was travelling down to the south of France today via Eurostar and TGV (train). Should be getting picked up about now so I’m hoping for a text before bed. The rest of the week involves the English students going on visits in the area, while the French kids stay at school (they had a similar arrangement here). He will be visiting Avignon, Aix en Provence and Marseille; pottering around the markets and even an afternoon at the beach. They do seem to have one day of classes so there’s a chance of a slight improvement in Rory’s conversational French while he’s away.
He’s back home next Sunday evening. It will be Mother’s Day and I can’t wish for a better present than to have my lovely boy back home again.