We are twinned with 3 schools internationally: Junshan Primary School, China; Zululu Primary School, Kenya; l'ecole de Marie Curie, France.
We have hosted visits from teachers and children from all these countries and sent deputations of teachers to them all too.
Each year our Year 6 children have a very exciting residential experience in France to visit our twin school in Normandy!
This morning was far more leisurely – with a wake up call at 07:30 and breakfast 08:15. We had pain au chocolat as well as pain avec chocolat, chocolat chaud and cereal chocolat…
After a spot of diary writing, we departed for the market. This is a ten minute walk away and the variety of stalls is quite astounding for a small town. Also the number of fidget spinner stalls has increased exponentially – expect fidget spinners when we get home!
Our visit to the market place was topped off with a visit to the boulangerie. We went underground to see the ovens and watch them making croissants and baguettes.
We then returned to the foyer for our lunch – which was turkey steak, mushroom sauce, rice and green beans.
After lunch, we boarded the coach and headed for the ferry.
We were sad to be leaving France, but we’ve lived every moment to the max and made the most of our time here. We are looking forward to being home.
If you thought other days were busy, they’ve got nothing on today!
We got up at 06:30 and had breakfast ready for an 07:15 departure, with our French friends. After a short delay, we set off.
We arrived at Bayeux at 09:30 ready for our entry into the tapestry museum at 09:45. We got our audio tours and delved into a thousand years of history! Brilliant.
We then went up to watch the informational film about the tapestry, and then spent time in the museum looking at artefacts and models from Norman times.
Together, we then conducted a quiz about the tapestry making use of the life-size facsimile of it. We did this in pairs.
Then it was time for lunch!
After lunch we went to the cemetery and explored the graves – we found Evie’s great-uncle’s grave. It is incredible to think that every year we come we find a grave of someone related to one of the children; they were obviously moved by the experience.
We then hopped back into the coach and headed down for Arromanches to do a bit of shopping! Riley even had 2 ice-creams!
Our viewing at the 360 cinema was at 15:30, so we then went up to the hilltop to make sure we got a good spot. We went straight in and watched the incredible montage take us through the first 100 days of the battle of Normandy.
A visit to the beach after this moving video is always laden with emotion for me – to see children playing on this beach where so many men lost their lives is so affirming because they gave their lives to give us this freedom. To take the children to the movie before means that in the back of their minds is a tiny seed – difficult for them to comprehend at the moment, but it is sowed, so that in the future as it grows into a deeper understanding, it will connect with this memory and ensure that the sacrifice was not made in vain.
The children hugely enjoyed playing on the beach – especially paddling in the water, where we met 2 ladies who were netting shrimps for their dinner! They had caught several small flat-fish, which they allowed the children to hold before setting them free. This along with Lois’ uncanny ability to plunge her hand into the water and retrieve a hermit crab made for a creature-filled experience!
We boarded the bus and headed for home – which the foyer has now become. Our arrival back was tinged with sadness as tonight we say ‘Au revoir’ to our French friends. Nolan shed tears (again) when separating from James.
We enjoyed a dinner of pasta bolognaise, which was wolfed down by the children after a long day.
We are now completing our diaries, having some free-time and winding down for bed time.
We come home tomorrow. #seeyousoon
Today has been packed!
We got up this morning and had breakfast – which, despite being only our second, is now something we are pros at! Tea in a bowl? No problem!
Our French friends arrived at 09:15 to accompany us to the Vallee de Telhuet park, where we undertook orienteering in pairs – one French child, one English.
We played two excellent games before heading back to the foyer to collect our picnics. These we ate in the park just behind the foyer, before heading off to visit the town hall.
The tour of the town hall was conducted by the Deputy Mayor and was very interesting. We saw where people get married (congratulations to Riley and Lois – our newly-weds!) as well as the council chamber.
After this, the children all went swimming in the town swimming pool. They had an excellent time, before returning to the foyer for gouter.
We left the foyer, at 17:30 and went down to the terrain de boule for our boule tournament. The children were divided into teams of 3 and they played 2 matches. The scores were added, points differences calculated and prizes awarded to the winning team by the town mayor – who became something of a celebrity!
We returned to foyer and after a spot of diary writing, peeled the children off of the ceiling and popped them all into bed… easy really…
Did any one else hear that – did it sound like giggling to you?
Today has been another brilliant day!
We woke up at varying times – but I am pretty sure that when I got up at 06:40 I could not hear many others moving about…
We went down to our first French breakfast! Amazing! Hot chocolate in bowls, cereal poured in on top, croissants and French bread being dipped, and slathered in chocolate spread… brilliant!
After breakfast children began appearing with diaries – wanting to find a quiet space where they could indulge in a bit of writing! By 09:15 we were ready to set off for school.
We arrived about 5 minutes later where we were met by Antoine and his class. We divided into groups and went off to various rooms in the school to play games: monster, a game describing the body parts of a monster; bingo, focusing on numbers; mastermind, making use of our vocabulary on colours; memory fruits, which involves remembering fruit (hence the name…)
These games lasted most of the morning (since we rotated through them every so often) and at 12:00 when the bell rang, we were ready for lunch. Since l’ecole de Marie Curie has no hall or canteen we go (along with half the other children) to a nearby school – Schweitzer – where they do have a canteen. Here we had lunch. Today we had a cucumber starter, pork with beans, and a fruit compote for pudding.
After lunch we returned to Marie Curie. Since the French children have 2 hours for lunch (can you believe it?!) our children were treated to taking part in the various lunchtime activities provided by the town hall. Some of us went off for ‘relaxation’ (which Mrs. Southon called ‘shotgun’ on before I had the chance!), another group went for handwriting practice, whilst a third group went to the playground for structured games.
After the lunch break we went to the Salle de Normandie, which is a huge sports hall on the other side of the square. Here the children played Tchoukball (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tchoukball) in small teams, which was great fun.
We then came back to the Foyer, where we enjoyed Lorna’s birthday cake – Happy Birthday Lorna! – before having some downtime.
At 18:00 we went back to school and performed the two songs the children had learned, and then had a family-buffet-picnic along with the children and parents of Antoine’s class.
We left school at around 20:00 and gave the children a choice of either having time indoors in the foyer (making use of the table fussball, games or pool table) or staying outside and making use of the park. Some chose in, others out, so we split up.
At 21:00 we gathered together for information about tomorrow morning and to explain about bedtime.
It is now 22:15 and it appears that the children are (mostly) asleep! Very much looking forward to orienteering and swimming tomorrow.
Despite an early start (I got up at 02:30!), today has been a great day! We set off from Catcott at 04:00 with the children in high spirits. We travelled down to Portsmouth without incident and assembled in the departure lounge to have a spot of breakfast.
Once we’d eaten a little, we were ready to board the ferry and after boarding a shuttle bus to the ferry boarding ramp, we climbed up and up and up the steep slope to get on.
We were greeted by friendly cabin crew, who showed us, firstly where to store our baggage, then to our lounge. We all got settled in and then set off in various groups to explore the wonders that the ferry had to offer!
We had a film, Swallows and Amazons, and then we had a bit more of an explore. Two highlights included a magic show and limbo competition. Evie and James made it through to the final five – which, considering there were over 400 children onboard, was quite a feat!
We docked in Caen on time after a smooth crossing, and found Sharon waiting for us with the bus. We got on and got going. The traffic was quite bad – it is a bank holiday in France today, so the main roads were pretty chocka! We took some back-road-short-cuts and got to the recycling centre at around 17:00.
The chief engineer at the recycling centre was one of the parents who had accompanied the French children on their visit to Catcott back before the half-term break and he had invited us to go there. It is state of the art – they burn the waste and generate electricity without venting any pollutants back into the atmosphere. We were startled to discover that 18,000 tons of waste comes across the Channel from Britain (on the same ferry that we had just come across on I hasten to add!) every year! Astounding.
We had a very interesting tour of the centre and Mr. Axten-Higgs even got to have a go at sitting in the chair and operating the massive grabber claw!
After our tour, we got back on the coach – laden with jars of honey produced on the site – to prove how clean it is – and hard back books of a boat festival held locally; gifts to us all to remember our visit.
We headed for the foyer, where the children discovered who their room-mates were going to be and started to unpack (and by that I mean tip things on to the floor….). Then we had tea!
Today we had a salad starter, chicken escalope in breadcrumb, with white rice and tomatoes, followed by baked apple and summer fruits. Plus bread…. Plenty of bread…
After tea, the children had some time to explore the foyer; shoot a bit of pool; play a little table football; do some diary writing.
Then it was pretty much time for bed. We began proceedings at 21:00 and by 22:00 they were all in bed and some were even asleep…
See you in the morning!
Xin nian kuai le!
On Friday 27th January our children celebrated Chinese New Year with a cross curricular themed morning! They followed a carousel of activities from Mandarin lessons to calligraphy, from Lion dancing to animation. They had a wonderful time learning about how the Chinese celebrate New Year!
17:18 – We are now on our way home! We sitting in our designated area on the boat and the children are broadly divided into two groups – those playing card games, and those who have gone off to take part in the football game the crew are running on the dance floor! Mrs. Cosser led that group off a few minutes ago.
But I have started at the end, perhaps we should have a Tarantino-style flashback!
We woke up this morning at gone 08:00! The children were quite tired after our long day yesterday. We went down for le petit dejuner and then set off for the town hall at 09:15. A short walk later and we found ourselves outside this important building in the town centre of Gravenchon.
Town halls in France are interesting because they are vital parts of the way the towns are run and governed. The deputy mayor, Marie, met us and took us on a tour of the council chamber, followed by the room of marriage. All marriages in France have to take place at the town hall, although they can subsequently be blessed at a church. This room has all of the twinning oaths taken by Gravenchon and its twin towns over the years. Street has been twinned with Gravenchon for 50 years this year and Evie read out the twinning oath with great clarity for all to hear.
After our visit, we went to the market, which fills the square in front of the town hall. The market is a vibrant experience for the children – there are many stalls for fruit and vegetables, fish and meat, cheese and saucisson. There are also a lot of stalls which sell… items of a cheaper nature (just in case you thought your wonderful children were going to bring you nice French cheeses!).
Sharon had arranged for us to visit the boulangerie – including a visit to underground area where all the bread is made and cooked: it was incredible! I visit this boulangerie every time I come to Gravenchon and there are only ever 3 ladies who work there. However, when I ventured down into the cellar with the children and found 19 (YES NINETEEN!) bakers working flat out downstairs I was staggered!!!!
After our visit to the market, we went back to the foyer for lunch. This was a cooked meal – and our first cooked lunch at the foyer so far. We then loaded up the bags and jumped onto the coach, having first said good bye to all our Gravenchon friends – Dede and Marie, Sharon and Antoine, the ladies from the Foyer and Sylvie. It was lovely for them to come to see us off.
Our visit to the ferry port passed without incident – except that Mrs. Cosser suddenly realized she had not put her passport in her hand luggage! She suddenly got scared that she had left it at the foyer, so we pulled over just after the Tancarville Bridge, at the péage, and she had to get out and rootle through her main suitcase – which was rammed to the gunnels with stuff she had acquired at the market! Mr. Axten-Higgs helped her, by taking photos of her!
We spent a fairly swift hour at the ferry terminal, completing diaries and eating pains aux chocolats, and nectarines (goûter), before boarding the ferry and finding our seats.
All in all, although we are tired from our week, it has been incredible and the children have had some amazing times; I hope that they never forget their Year 6 residential experience.
22:45 - They are all asleep! Oh my goodness - what a day we have had!
We got up this morning at 06:30 so we could have breakfast at 06:45. We did this fairly quickly - being pro's at this kind of thing by now. We left the foyer at 07:15 to find many of the French children arriving outside. Our coach came and we packed our picnics and set off for Bayeux.
Bayeux is about 1 and a half hours away from Gravenchon, so the coach drive took a while, but the children we so well behaved. We went to the British Cemetery first and it was inspiring to see the children so interested in their heritage. They walked the cemetery and read the roles, looked at the graves and tried to find people from their families or people with the same surnames. They were really drinking it in.
After we had spent an hour at the cemetery, we headed down to the tapestry museum. We arrived in perfect time and walked straight in for our pre-booked audio tours. The children drifted along the 70 foot tapestry and laughed at the funny bits and really followed what was going on. Brilliant.
After the tapestry itself, we went up into the museum and looked at the models and read the information, before going into the cinema to see the information movie about the tapestry. When we came out we had a quiz, using the giant facsimile of the tapestry in the museum, looking at the various scenes and finding answers to the questions.
This was followed by a picnic lunch!
After lunch we went to Arromanche. We got dropped off by the coach and the children enjoyed an hour of shopping before going up to the 360 cinema. The film was very moving and the children were impressed by it; they certainly talked a lot about what they'd seen.
After the movie, we went back down to the town and went down onto the sand and had goûter. Then we dashed out into the sea, for a splash about, before getting back on the coach and coming home.
We got back to the foyer, and had tea, and then headed out to the park for a series of wide games. We finally fell back exhausted to the foyer, and all the children got into bed (after showers!) and most of them fell completely asleep!
22:21 - Another smashing day en France! The children met up again with their French friends and went to the Valley du Telhuet, a park in Gravenchon, where they undertook a spot of orienteering with a French partner - very successfully! After this we returned to the foyer for a picnic. The weather changed, literally within minutes, from a misty sky to clear blue with baking sunshine. We played in the park near the foyer for an hour after lunch, then headed off to the swimming pool.
We had over an hour and a half in the swimming pool, making the most of the lovely warm water and the warm sunny day, and playing on the water slides and taking occasional dips into the jacuzzis!
After a short walk back to the foyer, we had goûter, and then a little time diary writing, before setting off again, but this time for the bouleodrome. Here we were met warmly by the twinning committee and greeted with lovely drinks and snacks. The children were then put into teams of three and given a town name for their team. Each team played two matches (which sounds short, but believe me, it isn't!) with a BBQ at the end! They completed their matches, then sang their French songs to the committee, before all joining hands with the committee members and singing a rousing chorus of the hokey cokey! A short walk through the warm evening air, brought us back to the foyer, where the children were encouraged to shower, and then get to bed - we have an even busier day ahead of us tomorrow!
08:12 - It's official - we're all up (and some of us have been up for a little while now...) and we're all eating le petite dej'! C'est tres bien!
20:24 – What a packed day! We woke the children up (well most of them anyway!) at 07:30 and came down for le petite dejuner. The children were fascinated to discover that in France you have hot chocolate in a bowl and then dip your croissant or baguette into it! They also had plenty of jam, honey and cereals, plus orange juice or milk or water to drink! They ate for nearly 30 minutes solid!
Petite dej’ was followed by room inspections – and some rooms scored highly (others not so…). Everyone is working really well as a group.
We set off for school at 08:57 and arrived at school at 09:00 to an entrance hall lined with French children. Our children said they felt like celebrities! We got into our four groups and headed off for our activities – bingo, monster, fruits and mastermind. The children are getting much better at their vocab now.
As you may know, the French have 2 hours for their lunchtime and they divide this into two sections. We had activities first, laid on for the school children by the town hall. These activities were: paper craft, outdoor games, embroidery and dancing. The children chose which activity they wanted to do and then went off. The paper crafters made a chameleon, the embroiderers did some cross stitch, the dancers did a mixture of Irish dancing, belly dancing, Egyptian amongst other things. All very interesting.
We then had a short walk to the cantine (which is at the neighboring school – Schweitzer), where we found starters of cream-cheese and vegetables waiting for us. This was followed by spaghetti bolognaise and then yoghurts – everyone ate heartily.
After lunch, we returned to school and met the French children again (some of them had been with us in the ‘second lunch shift’) and went over to the Salle de Normandy – a gymnasium in the local area. Here we were introduced to the interesting sport ‘Tchball’. This is like a mixture of netball and handball but with mini-trampolines! Amazing!
At 16:00 we came back to the foyer, showered and had a couple of hours to kick-back and relax. We had goûter at 16:30 altogether (fresh apricots, orange juice and chocolate biscuits). We then split up with some of us staying to play pool, write diaries, play Uno or table football and some of us heading down to the park for football and other games.
By 18:00 we were ready to back to school. We were greeted by a large crowd of parents and French children and their families. We grouped up, put our hoodies on and sang our French songs. The French children then sang their English songs and we ended our mini-concert with whole ensemble singing – which was brilliant.
After the singing finished, the parents opened up all the spectacular foods they had prepared for us and we had a huge picnic tea – salads in abundance, and no shortage of desserts!
We returned to the foyer at 20:00 and we are now just enjoying a little more quiet (!) time before we begin the process of putting the children to bed.
19:42 – We have just eaten a lovely meal, consisting of turkey breast, rice and a creamy mushroom sauce; many children asked for seconds and even thirds! Their main course was followed by a chocolate doughnut!
We whiled away the hours of the ferry crossing watching films (Inside Out and Pan) and exploring the various entertainments. These included a magician, a disco AND a silent disco. Some of the children even had a little sleep – can you believe it after an 04:00 start!
We arrived at Ouistream at 15:00, and met Rachelle Latour: it was nice to see a friendly face. She guided us to the coach and we boarded quickly. The coach ride to Gravenchon was interesting – we saw the Tanquerville bridge and the Seine – which is much reduced even from yesterday.
Upon arrival at the Foyer Des Sports, we discovered our rooms and put our bags up. We then went to l’ecole Marie-Curie, where we had goûter and a drink and then explored what a French school is like. The children are now ready to go back in the morning.
After a spot of diary writing, some of us are going to go out and explore the park, whilst some others are going to have a quieter time playing pool or table fussball, before we head off to bed.
Miss Lintern is going to China over October half-term as part of the Somerset-Yeuyang project coordinated by Strode College.
This is an exciting opportunity for Miss Lintern to immerse herself in Chinese culture and learn about our link school Junshan Primary School. When she returns she will be ready to put her new found knowledge into our curriculum as Year 3 begin their China topic in the Spring term!
16:54: We have just boarded the ferry and we are on our way back to Blighty!
Today has been another great day – we got up late, for a start (!) – in fact, my alarm did not go off until 06:45… although Henry did wake me (and the rest of his room) up at 06:00!
The children packed their cases, stripped their beds and came down for breakfast at 08:30.
After breakfast we were met by Sharon, who took us down to the market, which runs in Gravenchon every Friday. It was great for the children to see the change that comes over the town square on market day, having been here on Wednesday for our visit to the Town Hall. The square and the roads around were filled with stalls selling everything from olives to leggings! Sharon kindly showed us around market introducing us to stall holders and convincing them to allow the children to sample the fruit and olives. The children interacted with the French market stall holders using their rapidly increasing vocabularies and even purchased presents for themselves and their families. Look out parents, you have some very smelly cheeses heading your way! You would be so surprised to see these children now making confident purchases of cheese, saucisson, croissants and macaroons!
Sharon had arranged for us to visit the charcuterie and the boulangerie and some of the children even went downstairs into the kitchen to see the bread and vienoisserie being baked. Great stuff!
After our time in the market we walked up to say ‘Au revoir’ to our French friends at Marie Curie. There were many hugs, kisses (bisous!) and exchanges of presents, as well as the shedding of many tears. These two groups have built up some great relationships and considering they can speak to each other very little, they have done wonderfully at communicating and gaining understanding. It makes me so proud to see.
We returned to the foyer for lunch – which was fish – followed by a chocolate doughnut. We loaded the coach and said our goodbyes to the assembled French; Sharon, Andres and Sylvie – all of whom have been on hand during our visit to make sure things run smoothly and work well.
The journey from Gravenchon to Caen Ferry Terminal, which took an hour and a half, passed quietly and without much comment. The children waited patiently in the ferry terminal, munching on the croissants and apples the Foyer had provided us for goûter and also spending the last of their change on a few sweets from the vending machines for the ferry crossing. Elliot even managed to get the man in the bureau de change to swap his last euro for five 20c pieces – ‘Cinq 20’s s’il vous plait!’ Brilliant!
We boarded the ferry quickly and were shown to our space – an area of the coffee shop. The children are tired – but they have grown up a lot in the last five days and they are now much more capable of sustaining themselves independently. As I write this, they are sitting playing cards or quietly working on their diaries. Only three of them have gone off to the disco with Mrs. Cosser – can you guess who?!
This is probably the last blog update I shall do now, so I would like to take this opportunity to let you all know just how very proud I am of each and every one of these children. Sharon told me today that she has been receiving emails from members of the twinning committee, as well as from other adults who have met us, who have all said how great they have been. They have been absolutely brilliant and credit to all of us.
We are expecting to reach England at 21:15, so I am confident about the return time at present. I will update the scrolling bar on the home page with updated arrival times as soon as we get on the coach (assuming I have 3g in Portsmouth!).
If you don’t hear from me again, assume MIDNIGHT! See you then!
22:40: Do you see a pattern emerging with the timings of these blog updates?! Our days are so busy that I do not get a chance to do any updating until the children are "asleep"...
Today has been perhaps our most 'full on' day so far - but definitely one of the best too! Firstly we had to get up early - 6:30 - as breakfast was at 6:50am! The children are now complete pro's at the whole hot chocolate bowl thing and they had finished their breakfasts by the time the French children started to arrive at the Foyer. By 7:30 all the French children were with us and we boarded our large coach for the journey to Bayeux and were underway by 07:45.
We arrived at the museum at 09:30 and got the tickets sorted out so that we were first in when the door officially opened. The children each had an audio tour, which guided them through the 70+ scenes of the tapestry in rapid order. They loved to see how comic-strip-like the whole thing was - and they were suitably impressed by the length of the whole thing. It was interesting the see the whole story, because we really only have bits in our common memory (bits like the arrow in the eye!), so it was great to see the whole tapestry (even if it might be Norman propaganda!).
After the tapestry itself we went upstairs and into the cinema to see the film about the tapestry. This featured a more detailed explanation of the content, but also had people reenacting scenes and bringing it to life. Perhaps the most poignant part of the tale was the parallel the film draws between the events of 1066 and the events of 1944 - two invasions: but the second featuring the land of the conquered returning to liberate the land of the conquerer. This meant a lot today, seeing as how the second half of our historical journey would see us visiting the cemeteries and the beaches.
After the film we spent some time in the museum, whilst the French children watched the film in French. The museum is full of interesting and well built models and replicas of Norman things - notably buildings in England. There is even a model of the village where Mrs. Cosser got engaged - although the hill was not on the model (and neither was the pub)!
From the tapestry we headed back to the coach and up to the cemetery. This was one of the most moving events of the day. Finley's sharp intake of breath and his comment 'Oh wow!' says it all. They were staggered to see the sheer number of graves in this one British cemetery. The idea that there might be more cemeteries in other towns too was too much for them to comprehend I think. As it is the 71st commemoration of D-Day on Saturday we were honoured to see many veterans today both at the cemetery and then in Arromanches as well, and the children spent some time talking with a 92 year old gentleman from Essex who had been at D-day and lost comrades around Bayeux. The children watched him lay flowers on a grave and spoke with him about his memories of the events. Truly moving.
From Bayeux we went down into Arromanches and found the town centre shut for the commemorations. We had to park the coach a little bit out of the town and eat our picnic on a lawn under trees, which was actually lovely because there was not a cloud in the sky today. After our picnic Year 6 went down into the town and shopped! They also saw a fly-by by two C1 transport planes and listened to the band of the Dutch armed forces who were commemorating today.
We knew it would be high tide, so we had booked tickets for the 360 degree cinema at the top of the cliff and we went up there before going onto the beach. The movie was moving and fitted brilliantly with our morning in Bayeux, because the film also made the link with the tapestry and events of 1066 - so we had been full circle today! The film was difficult in some ways and we spent some time afterwards discussing how it could have been possible for a place as beautiful and happy as Arromanches to have looked so devastated by the events of the Second World War and I think the children really started to realise how significant the events we had been discussing during that day really were.
There is an engraving at the British Cemetery which reads' "Their Name Liveth Forevermore" and the veteran we spoke to today said that he felt passing on the stories to the next generation would make sure these words came true. Today we have done a little to make sure that torch is passed on to the next generation of young people.
After the movie we got back on the coach and headed back the beach. By this stage the Dutch troops were being a little more relaxed and came down onto the beach for a race to the sea. Their antics were repeated by our children and the children from Marie Curie, along with several other Year 6 parties from schools in England! The children enjoyed paddling in the sea and splashing each other - it was lovely!
The journey back from Arromanches was long, but we arrived at the Foyer at 19:30 to find our dinner ready for us! After dinner we went out to the park - because believe it or not, they still had energy to burn off! We have now settled them down for the night. The children are particularly happy that le petit dejeuner is not until 08:30 tomorrow!
Despite the great days and the happy times I think that this evening our minds have been turning towards home. The weather forecast for tomorrow is clear, calm and sunny, so I am anticipating that we will make our scheduled arrival time of 21:30. This means we should be back in Catcott at around midnight. Please do check the SCROLLING BAR at the top of the home page for updates!
22:41: Today has been EXTREMELY full of events! We started the day with another French breakfast - chocolate in the bowls is now going down very well - watch out parents: they will be drinking like this when they return! Some of the children are now even beginning to get into the French-bread-like-kracker-whatsits (you'll just have to look at Iiesha's photo to see what I mean!).
We left the Foyer at 08:55 and went to Marie Curie, before heading over the road to the Maternal School (or pre-school?) to look at this. The children start here full time from 2 years old and we were impressed to see some of their amazing art work! The classrooms look more recognisably like British classrooms too - with desks in groups and with draw units and 'areas' around the room. They children thought that the little beds were very sweet and they also liked the gymnasium!
After our visit we walked to the Valley du Telhuet to do orienteering with the French children. This was great fun and really well organised by a small group of the French children. They placed cones around the parc and each cone had a letter and a rune printed on the underside. Each team consisted of 1 English and 1 French child. Each team had a map of the parc and this had letters marked on it to show the locations of the cones. The teams each had to find 8 different letters (specified on a piece of paper given to them) and copy the runes carefully when they were found. They had to do this as quickly as possible. We played this game twice so they could collect 16 runes, which were then used to decode a secret message in both English and French! C'est tres bien!
We then came back to the Foyer and collected our picnic before walking to the park behind the Foyer to eat it. We played in the park for 20 minutes before assembling and walking to the Hotel de Ville for our guided tour.
We were met by one of the Deputy Mayors of Gravenchon, as well as the President of the Twinning, who both showed us around the town hall - all the things that Street, Isny and Rubeno have given to Gravenchon over the years (including many cut glass objects and a copy of the Glastonbury chair). The children were glad to see the familiar pictures of Street High Street and recognised some of the other places in the photos too. When James read out the twinning accord to the group it really helped to bring home the significance of their visit to this place - nearly 50 years on from when this document was signed!
We saw how French people get married and Leighton even got to be the honorary mayor for the afternoon - wearing the sash and presiding over the 'council meeting' in the chamber!
The children were then very excited to be invited into the mayor's office and meet with Virginie Lutrot. They all asked her to sign their pieces of paper like autographs - she was very pleased and said that she felt like a movie star!
From the Town Hall we walked to the swimming pool. The children got changed and went into the pool outside to swim in the warm sunshine. They had a great time splashing around and diving and jumping in, under the watchful eye of two rather impressive looking lifeguards! After this, they took part in a treasure hunt which had been organised in one of the inside pools: lots of floats had been put together and there were answers on laminated cards attached to weights hidden around the pool. The children had questions on a card which they had to find the answers to hidden in the water! Very exciting!
Later, after having had some time to write their diaries back at the Foyer, we set off again - this time to the Terrain de Boule, close to the Valley de Telhuet. We were met by the Twinning Committee, who had organised a boule tournament and a BBQ for us. There was lots of excitement at this event, with teams of children competing against one another in the tournament! Eventually a team of girls won the competition. All the children were awarded medals for taking part and the winners were each given small trophies to keep and we were presented with a proper trophy to take back to Catcott. Each year this trophy will return with us and be awarded to the winners - what a lovely idea!
Mr. Axten-Higgs was also entered into an adult petanque competition - each player had two boules to throw at a third, which was placed on the top of a log on its end. The aim was to try to knock off the boule, by hitting it with one of your thrown boules. Mr. Axten-Higgs won the competition, beating the Frenchman at his own game! No one was more surprised than he was!!!
At the end of the evening the children performed their songs (Frere Jacques - in a round - and Alouette) for the twinning committee and their families, before we set off for our walk back to the Foyer. We got back at around 21:00 and began to settle the children down. By 22:15 they were all in bed... some of them were even asleep - c'est incroyable!
21:25: For lunch this afternoon we went to Schweitzer school - a 'middle' school 2 minutes walk up the road, where they have a canteen (the place where the children from Marie Curie go for their lunch). The canteen served us a three course meal - pork in a cream and mustard sauce with battered courgette.
After lunch we went back to Marie Curie where we practiced our songs, listened to the French children practice theirs and had an impromptu whole school assembly (something which does not happen in French schools) under their preole. The children from the other classes sang some songs to us too - which was lovely because these classes have some very young children.
We came back to the Foyer at 16:30 for a rest and some time writing diaries, then returned to Marie Curie at 18:00 for our performance to the parents, and a family meal together with the parents and brothers and sisters of the children in Antoine's class.
We left school at 20:00 and went to the park for an hour of play. We have just finished a large game of kick the can and are now back at the foyer, settling the children down for the night.
Another great day - looking forward to exploring more of Gravenchon tomorrow!
12:41: We have had a good morning! Firstly we had to wake the children up at 07:45, because breakfast was being served at 08:00! They had slept well! We went down to find that the table had been laid and croissants and baguettes were ready to go. The children (and the adults) were excited to discover that the French do not really use cups at breakfast time - instead they drink from their bowls, which they fill with hot chocolate and dip their croissants and bread into! There was also jam and honey and chocolate spread! Lovely!
We left the foyer and walked to school at 09:00 - we were greeted in the same way that the we had greeted the French children - lines with waving and many cries of 'bon jour'! We then got into groups and played the different games that we had played in England. It was great to play the same games as we all understood the rules and so were able to concentrate on our language and understanding.
As the French children have two hours for lunch we are now taking part in their lunchtime activity clubs (which are run by the town hall) - some of the children have gone for lunch and we will go for lunch afterwards! It is very different to our 1 hour!
23:04: We arrived in Gravenchon safe and sound, having been met off the ferry by Sharon and the French coach driver. We loaded up all our cases in no time and were back on the road in no time. The journey to Gravenchon was narrated by Sharon, so we saw lots of local landmarks on the way in.
The Foyer had prepared all our rooms for us, so when we arrived art 16:30, we were able to put our cases into our rooms before setting off across the park to find l'ecole de Marie Curie. The walk was less than 5 minutes. Antoine met us at the school and took us into the preole - the school's three sided barn-playground (a common feature of Normandy schools) where there was goûter waiting for us.
After our snack, the children played on the climbing frame for a while, before we set off to explore the school. It was very interesting to go into the various classrooms and look at the way that French schools are arranged. The children were excited about the prospect of meeting up with their friends again tomorrow.
We walked back to the Foyer at around 18:45 and explored the communal rooms downstairs. The children played on the table football and with some of the games in the 'living room' area. We then went in for our first FOUR COURSE MEAL!!! Salad to start, followed by spaghetti bolognaise, cheese and then chocolate mousse. It was lovely!
We spent a good hour eating dinner (maybe more!) and afterwards we took a stroll to the park and played football, cricket and hill-rolling. At around 21:15 we returned to the foyer, unpacked our cases and got ready for bed. 10:30 was lights out and as I write this at 23:15 there is not a sound to be heard. Quiet. Peaceful. Serene. Night, night all!
12:48: Poppy and Anna have just taken part in a huge karaoke event in the entertainment area of the Ferry! They sang in front of about 150 other pupils from several different schools who are all making the crossing to France with us. There was lots of cheering when the girls finished... well done you two, we are really proud of you!
11:41: Year 6 have now enjoyed their tour of the Bridge - it was excellent. They particularly liked seeing that the Ferry was on autopilot! The captain was just standing by, watching the controls and listening to messages come over her radio. The children were also interested to learn that the Ferry has 'wings' under the water to keep the boat stable in the water!
One group have been for a long explore of the entire boat, peering into every nook and cranny they could find, whilst another group settled down to a long series of games of uno! Mrs. Attwell has even found time to do some knitting!
08:45: Year 6 set off for France from Catcott this morning (1/6/15) at 5am! We travelled to Portsmouth and then boarded the ferry as foot passengers. The children are all very happy with their seating arrangements and they have already eaten their breakfasts! As I write this, two groups have gone for a tour of the Bridge and the third group is waiting for their turn. Whilst they wait they are playing cards!