Part 2: The (not so) secret diary of Sally, aged fiftysomething and three quarters
18 Nov 2016 08:42 by Sam Taylor
In the second part of the (not so) secret diary of Sally, we hear about an educational walk to Mont St Michel and some fancy-dress fireside antics. Look out for the final part of Sally's award-winning diary next week!
Day 3 – Monday 29th August
Mont St Michel trip with a quick sand experience first. We pad bare foot across the hard sands between main land and the mount. An enigmatic expert frowns in concentration as he watches our feet. Watches the sand. I follow the rules to the letter out of politeness but inwardly expect the sinking sand to be a like a ghost story, exciting but fantastical – derived only to attract tourists.
Enigmatic man turns physics teacher and explains the changing relationship between sand and water. He prophesizes that, were we to all jump up and down in a certain place, then the earth would open up – or at least become unstable and invite us to sink. I think not!
We jump: children with abandon; fathers with ferocity, mothers with pelvic-floored caution. And blow me down, we blink and the sand has changed into a bottomless cauldron of sucking, taunting, and frankly, terrifying quick sand. Suddenly, my cynicism vanishes and is replaced with complete admiration that this man can safety navigate all of us through the ever changing, easily fatal, maze. And I would like a pocket version of him to keep in my handbag to keep me and my family safe in all other outdoor scenarios.
The Mount itself was lovely but most striking is that it is only Day 3 and we are already sharing our picnics, caring for each other’s children and swapping seats on the coaches. And the pack lunch was scrummy.
Evening 4 – Tuesday 30th August
Around the camp fire singing and laughing. We spent the afternoon in our family activity all covered in mud and rolling on the floor for the sake of the assault course. My skin felt super-smooth. Could it be real – or placebo?
Drinking the conservatory generated wine and eating toasted marshmallows I stretch the achy limbs from this morning’s fencing. My word we worked hard. So much so that I treated myself to a lazy read on the lawn in the afternoon. At any one time there was usually a couple of other adults who’d chosen the luxury of doing nothing. I say do nothing, of course they had the huge responsibility of checking that the beer supply didn’t run dry. It didn’t!
I mustn’t forget to record my faux-pas. Although I was aware of staff in funny costumes (fairies, princesses, jedis etc) during the day, I hadn’t really appreciated the daily themes. My kids told me what they needed to wear and I obliged.
Today was my first adult French lesson (the kids have been having theirs since day one). We were introduced to Valentin, the teacher. He had wild hair at the back, beaded plaits at the front and a floppy leather hat. He was a gentle, imaginative teacher and I assumed that to take such a job one maybe needed to be a little bit of a hippy – hence the hair and hat. At the end of the session my student-peer said in her best French ‘See you tomorrow, when you perhaps, won’t look like Jack Sparrow’. I was horrified! How could she be so rude? Valentin replied that he more likely he would look like Superman. In slow motion, my brain cranked round. The teacher was in fancy dress. The fancy dress was related to the day’s theme. He didn’t usually have beaded plaits any more than he tended to wear his pants over tights each Wednesday!
Watch this space for the final installment of Sally's award winning diary!