The (not so) secret diary of Sally, aged fiftysomething and three quarters
15 Nov 2016 08:47 by Sam Taylor
In August 2016, Sally and Ian, their 9 year old daughter and 8 year old son visited the Château de la Baudonnière on a Family Adventure Holiday. Across the week, Sally kept a diary of her family's experiences and having submitted it to us, has been awarded first prize in our 'Château diary of the year' competition.
Over the next few days we will be publishing Sally's diary, starting here with her experiences on Day 1 and 2. We hope you enjoy reading it as much as we have!
Day 1 – Saturday 27th August
Anxiously, we park up. It seems we are the last to arrive. We don't know where to go, or who we will meet, or whether this has been a terrible decision. I have just turned 50. What if everyone is mega fit and this place is like a puritanical health prison?! What if I have completely forgotten how to socialise?!
We pass in front of the shabby-chic chateau and across the vast lawn. I quickly register there is enough space for me to hide if I feel shy; but enough games equipment for if I feel sociable. I hear mumbling of 'conservatory' and turn to see smiling staff taking the covers off inviting nibbles.
In a rather over-tired brain-fogged state I say yes to a glass of ‘fizz’ just as the first bottle is de-corked. It fires out with a celebratory, excited, friendly pop that projects the attitude of the holiday to come. Unconsciously my non-dominant right arm shoots up – and I catch the first cork. The strangers stood closest to me gasp and laugh.
Maybe being 50, tired and shy is not going to be a draw back. The cork is the catalyst for introductions and chatter until 90 minutes has passed and it’s time for supper.
Day 2, morning – Sunday 28th August
Yummy supper, yummy breakfast – food definitely not going to be a problem for my connoisseur husband, carb stuffing son, fussy daughter or try-a-bit-of-everything me. Our apartment is perfect in a youth hostelly sort of way. Bunk beds for the kids (enough so they both get a top bunk) and a huge double for Ian and me. Bathroom en-suite. Comfy enough to be ‘home’ for a week; scruffy enough so I won’t worry about muddy shoes or piles of washing.
The staff member who had showed me around was a young man called Seb. I don’t think he could have been nicer! I felt truly welcomed.
(In fact all the staff were amazing. They seemed to really enjoy their work and to really like all of us – all 60 of us. They intermingled their jobs, which was strange at first. My French teacher was serving me dinner; the fencing teacher was leading karaoke. The name of the role is Animateur. It seems to mean ‘role model’ rather than teacher and all the children fell into good mannered, competitive, fun when around them. Both my kids ended up wanting to work there - I wanted to be a permanent guest!
Day 2, evening – Sunday 28th August
Sore bum from cycling.
What I hadn’t appreciated when booking was that adults don’t just get a chance to join in with the kids’ activities to be a bit cute and spend family time together. Everyone has their own schedule. Today whilst the kids did Jedi Games and Mini Farm, I cycled (and saw Mont St Michel in the distance) and Ian did orienteering. I didn’t have to be responsible for anyone or anything!!
The children are already making friends and gaining independence. The Chateau is sufficiently big that it’s an adventure to traverse but sufficiently small that they can make their own way to meals and shout ‘just going to play table tennis with ……..’. We see the back of their heads, hear half a sentence but know that they are fine.
The schedule runs from 8.30am to 10pm. They fall into bed exhausted and smile in their sleep.
Watch this space for the next instalment of Sally's award winning diary!