Sunday, 11 March 2012

Sur le pont d'Avignon

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.

Image: Bawbags.com

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.

If you want to read about the first leg of the French Exchange then click on 'The French are Coming' , 'La Plume de Ma Tante' and 'Au Revoir, Jean-Pierre'. 


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24 comments:

  1. he'll have a greattime. YOu did make me laugh about the ketchup, I thought you were going to say you'd stuck a pork pie in his case to begin with! What did you do with his phone contract? Daughter is of soon and I'm torn between wanting to stay in touch and risking the bill from hell!

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    1. He has a pay as you go basic phone so won't be able to go over anyway. Have had a text from him tonight - he got there fine, long journey. House has lots of cats! (we don't nave any pets apart from a fish!!)

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  2. off! 'daughter is off soon', sorry

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  3. And we are due to welcome the French half of our exchange programme next Sunday. For some bizarre (and unexplained) reason, this is not the same girl that the daughter stayed with last November...?!

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    1. How strange! Maybe the girl your daughter stayed with has become nervous about the trip and changed her mind? You would think they might have told you though.

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  4. DH read this one over my shoulder while having coffee this morning and agrees with me that Bawbags are pretty hilarious. Have sent the link to Son#1 back in the US to see what he thinks, but am now thinking MrL would look charming in a tartan pair. Know the house will be very quiet this week - know you're looking forward to having him back home!

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    1. We have a nice collection of them now: cartoon design, ants in pants, some monkey thing....and some gorgeous plain ones.

      Your final sentence brought a little tear to my eye. From a woman who knows xx

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  5. Two days before hubby's birthday, nowt bought and now you tell me about Bawbags. Hilarious. I am so going on the Internet for Father's Day!
    Hope Rory has a fab time. (I would say something in French but it's Sunday even, I've been helping little man with Science project ALL day so je suis tres fatiguee!

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    1. We found out about Bawbags at a school reunion for Dougie in Edinburgh. I think the chap who owns the company must have gone to the school as he offered up a year's supply for the charity auction. We didn't bid at time but we loved the name. The pants are brill.

      I read about your (sorry, your son's) science project on Facebook. You love it, really!

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  6. Have just visited the web site. Very rad! God knows how they make the "custom" fit ones. The mind boggles.

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  7. I work with a couple of bawbags... don't think they're the same thing though...

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    1. I don't suppose they cover your arse either?

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  8. 'The loneliest look in the world is the face of a mother at a railway or coach station scanning the crowd for her child'...I read that somewhere this week and although I don't think it is entirely true, I do know you will have a smile as wide as a mile on Sunday when you welcome him home.
    He will have a great time, are you still off to London? x

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    1. I think there's a lot of truth in that, Libby. I wasn't myself at all yesterday until I'd heard from him last night. You try to tell yourself not to be silly but it just sits there, in the pit of your stomach; even today, when he would be at school anyway.

      Yes, off to London later in the week for a couple of days. Dougie and I are looking forward to it and should break the week up nicely.

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  9. Best of luck for Rory on what sounds like a wonderful trip! Bawbags sound like a great idea :)

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  10. Hope he has a fabulous time, I am sure he will! How nice he arrives back in time for Mother's day as well. Just realised that I have lucked out this year, as my husband's birthday also falls on Sunday!! :/

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    1. Ooh, a tricky one. I think a birthday beats Mother's Day in the Top Trumps of special occasions!

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  11. The pants that are all the rage for French teenaged boys are Freeguns. Similar to the Bawbags but multi-coloured in crazy designs. Mme JP will not bat an eyelid.
    http://shop.freegun.fr/fr/garcon/boxer

    He's got a lovely week for it. Sunshine all the way. We were at the beach on Saturday having a picnic.

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    1. You're right, the Freeguns are very similar and the colours/designs are wacky like the Bawbags ones Rory has (the ants in pants design I showed was probably the most tame).

      Great to hear the weather will be good. That coat I shoved in won't get an airing then!

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  12. Rory will have a fab time, I awaiting with baited breath the pictures of fine french cuisine, exotic looking girls, either that or pizza & chips and some moody looking teenagers.

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    1. I think the latter will be nearer the truth. I will be grateful for any photographic evidence at all of his trip as he assures me he didn't need his camera as his iPod touch would be enough!

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  13. Just posting about this - but just wait till he's driving several hundred miles with a car full of teenagers, none of whom have a real clue where they're going. I don't know how I managed to sleep last night! Pah!

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