June is a busy month in French schools it seems. My youngest has just come back from his classe verte where he had a lovely time shovelling goat poo, and other things, although had to be pressed to remember what they were. He finally came out with 'pottery', stories of not sleeping until really late and having sandwiches for every meal. I must check what they really did on the notice board... They went to a purpose-renovated hamlet up in Aveyron where all the little cottages have been turned into accommodation for children on a farm activity holiday. It sounded really well organised with everything designed to show children what life in the countryside is like, incorporating hands-on activities such as poo-shovelling (actually, I don't remember seeing that in the brochure...) and cow-milking, etc.
My eldest is having an 'oval ball tournament' today which I suppose is a bit like rugby. I sent him off with a lunch of cold pizza (home made!) which he wanted instead of sandwiches. Yes, even in preference to a baguette sandwich made with freshly ground flour straight off the miller's wheel and filled with the lightest, tastiest pâté made by local peasants to an age-old recipe by the light of the new moon. No, he preferred mummy's pizza, cold. Ah, children...
Next week he's got a day of cycling in the countryside, doing a sort of orienteering by bike, I think, and his class is having an outing to the planetarium too. Picnic lunches, sun cream, caps de rigueur. This sort of activity schedule really impresses me and makes me think favourably of French schools.
However, Monday is the Pentecôte 'holiday', a real bone of contention because it has been cancelled as a jour ferié to pay for les vieux. This means we are supposed to go to work, but not get paid because all the money we would earn goes into a melting pot of funds to support the elderly. Most of French workers are not taken in by this and the unions have developed a system whereby they work extra minutes throughout the year so they can take the day off, paid. That's what I call 'up yours' to the Government, something the French are experts in, having had so much practice.
Unfortunately, where I work, we do not have this system, so if the teachers are off work, the kids are too which means working mothers have to take the day off, but it's classed as annual leave, which is excessively annoying. Especially so as I've just booked my July annual leave which leaves little room for manoeuver regarding extra days off here and there.
Talking of which, I'm absolutely ready for a holiday. It took a lot of research this year because Ryanair have really let us down charging stupid prices to fly in July from Montpellier, so I was looking at flying from everywhere else within a distance of 150km, and eventually decided to go by train. Naturally, the prices are going up every day, so what was seen on Saturday had changed on Tuesday, but it's done, booked, and the boys are delighted at the prospect of train travel. Being an impoverished divorcee who did not get a multi squillion euro pay-off, not having married a rich geezer, I am going back to the UK to see family. Hopefully we'll also make it over to Wales to visit scenes from my childhood as my mother is from Gower in South Wales. Just have to find some affordable accommodation... Any ideas?