Monday 26th April 2010
We left York House at 7:15am and arrived at Dover by 10am, after a 20 minute break at Maidstone Services. The ferry crossing was good and there were very few people on board. We arrived in France at 1pm (local time) and drove to Nausicaa for 2pm. We sat on the beach front eating our packed lunches before heading into the amazing French Sealife Centre; Nausicaa.
The boys thoroughly enjoyed the wide variety of fish, sharks, sea lions and penguins as well as getting their hands wet touching some of them!
We left the Aquarium at 4:15pm and drove to the Chateau by 5:15pm. The boys were shown around the grounds and their bedrooms and by 6:30pm we were all ready for the delicious meal we were given. There was a choice of steak, chicken or fish; chips or pasta; mixed vegetables or carrots followed by a doughnut and creamy dessert. There was squash to drink as well as chunks of fresh baguette and butter!
The boys are now taking part in the Chateau Olympics in the grounds and are enjoying running around in the fresh air.
The boys are all happy and looking forward to the Chocolate Factory and Goat Cheese Farm tomorrow.
Tuesday 27th April
The boys slept well and were up and getting dressed from 7am. Breakfast was at 7:40am; a selection of cereals, yogurts, croissants, pain au chocolats, fruit, and hot and cold drinks. The boys enjoyed their breakfast, following which we set off for the Chocolate Factory.
The aroma on arrival at the Chocolaterie was delicious and only improved once inside, watching the demonstration of chocolate-making; from cocoa bean to tasty chocolates! Having had a free sample, many of the boys bought little gifts to take home.
After the Chocolaterie, we drove the short distance to visit Madame Leviel at the Goat Cheese Farm where we saw a variety of animals including: cows and their calves; rabbits; free-range chickens; ducks and best of all, Madame's two breeds of jumper-munching goats from which she produces her amazing varieties of goat's cheeses. All of us loved holding the kids (which were 1 and 4 days old respectively) and which were soft to touch and very cuddly! We were all desperate to bring one back with us but common sense prevailed!
The whole visit was conducted in French which the boys took great pleasure in understanding. They learned all about the cheese-making process and various details about the general running of a dairy farm. The visit was a very good example of cross-curricular development in that it included aspects of French, Biology and Chemistry. We will be seeing Madame Leviel at the market in Le Touquet on Thursday when we will be able to purchase cheese and her delicious gaufres.
We returned to the chateau for another delicious meal which was followed by a French Language Module that involved a visit to the Carrefour hypermarket in Berck-sur-Mer. The boys had to compare French and English supermarkets as well as enquiring about prices for various items as diverse as 'un pantalon' and 'de l'ail'. As it had turned out to be such a sunny afternoon we decided to treat the boys and take them to the beach where many locals were enjoying a leisurely afternoon and where the boys made the most of an impromptu football game on the soft, golden sands of this popular resort.
We returned for yet another delicious meal and the boys are now playing Team Games outside on the grass.
All the boys thoroughly enjoyed the day and cannot wait to visit the Somme tomorrow.
Wednesday 28th April
The start of a busy day; breakfast early at 7:25am. The boys got ready for the day and boarded the coach for an 8am departure. We made good progress and arrived at Albert at 9:30am where we were able to go into the museum. The boys had a worksheet to complete; a task which they enjoyed doing as they discovered more about The Somme battlefield.
We then took the coach to Mametz where we visited the Devonshire Cemetery; a front line cemetery. This proved to be a moving experience for the boys. Lochnagar Crater was next on our journey, followed by lunch at Beaumont Hamel Memorial Park. After lunch we enjoyed a guided tour of the battlefield site from a native Newfoundlander called Kevin who brought the whole battle to life for the boys. Our final visit was to the Thiepval Memorial; a fitting conclusion to our day experiencing the Somme battlefield.
We journeyed home for a late dinner at 6:30pm and the boys have just taken part in a quiz.
Tomorrow we visit Le Touquet market, try our hand at mayonnaise making and visit Amiens.
Thursday 29th April
On yet another sunny morning, we left the chateau for a visit to Le Touquet market. This old, established market, found in the centre of this delightful, seaside resort, is held twice weekly. It sells a selection of fancy goods, clothes, and locally produced food and drink items. As arranged, we were able to meet up with Madame Leviel; the boys being eager to purchase her gaufres, and goat's cheese to take home with them.
Having spent a sunny hour trawling the market for answers to their worksheets, it was time to walk down to the beach and reboard our coach to get back to the chateau for a session of mayonnaise making. Ludo, the Head Chef at the chateau, demonstrated the art of good mayo making and then set the boys - in four groups - the task of making their own. Their end results were excellent, and Ludo found it very hard to decide on the winning group.
Another delicious lunch followed, and 1pm found us back on the coach for our journey to Amiens to view France's largest and most complete Gothic masterpiece; La Cathedrale Notre-Dame d'Amiens. On arrival the boys listened with patience as Mrs. Turnbull bombarded them with information about the architectural gem in front of them! Then it was time to go inside and view the interior; a truly breathtaking experience. Apart from viewing the jewelled casket which holds the supposed head of St. John the Baptist (the reliquary which makes Amiens cathedral an important centre for pilgrims); the boys will probably always remember the sight of Jack Fosberry - on his knees - completing the pilgrims' labyrinth, to the enjoyment of everybody in the cathedral at that point. Once outside the boys were delighted to be treated to ice lollies all round by a proud Miss Mackenzie!
The day ended with the much anticipated DISCO! Miss Mackenzie and Mrs Turnbull both volunteered Mr Turnbull - 2 to 1 - as the member of staff to be in attendance. He was offered ear-plugs but politely refused!
Thus ended yet another super day in France. Home Sweet Home tomorrow, just as we are all beginning to really enjoy ourselves!
NB We have managed to delay our ferry crossing, giving us more time here in the morning. Our new ferry time is 15:25 local time and we expect to be back at York House between 6:30 and 7pm. We will keep the school informed as to our progress on the journey.
Friday 30th April
Our final day began with frantic packing with Miss Mackenzie and Mr and Mrs Turnbull building up a sweat whilst trying to stuff huge, padded sleeping bags into much smaller nylon carrying bags! Then, after our last continental breakfast, we once again met up with Carole for our Treasure Hunt in Rue. Rue is only a fifteen minute walk from the chateau, along a magnificent tree-lined avenue, which used to lead to the chateau when it was first built and at its very best.
Once in Rue, the boys split up into pairs and scoured the small town for clues and solve the final puzzle. The winners were Hassan and Jack, who were delighted to be awarded with their prizes, later on in the day as we sat in the inevitable queue of Friday night traffic on the M25!
Having completed their Treasure Hunt, the boys spent an enjoyable and final thirty minutes shopping in order to find presents to take home. Before we knew it, time was up, and it was time to return to the chateau for a tasty lunch of pizza, salad and chips. Once eaten, we boarded our coach and headed to Calais.
The ferry crossing was smooth and enjoyable. There was a last shopping opportunity and then it was time to head home. The roads in the south of England are very different from their French counterparts which are empty by comparison! Having arrived back at school by 7:15pm, we bade the boys a fond farewell before returning home for a well-deserved rest and a bit of peace and quiet. Thus is the lot of the teacher!
I would like to end this diary by thanking the boys for being so well-behaved and making the most of the opportunities available to them - 5 days without their mobiles and Ipods was good for them as they could concentrate on living in France! I must also thank Mr and Mrs Turnbull for all their help and support throughout and before the trip. Their ability to impart their immense knowledge of the Somme and Amiens in an interesting and absorbing manner, enabled the boys to fully comprehend the areas we visited and the trip would not have been a success without them.
I hope your son enjoyed his time away in France and I look forward to reading his journal!