July 30, 2014

They came, they went

The scouts, that is. What an adventure those kids were having, all the way from the industrial town of Lille in northern France to the wild Perigord countryside down in the south-west. And they were obviously having a whale of a time. When I went out first thing this morning to make sure they were all awake and either hauling themselves out of their sleeping bags or were about to, one of the kids in the big tent farted like a trooper. Funny that, remember how there was always one in every tent you ever shared as well, wasn’t there 🙂

I told them last night that there were to be no shoes inside the tents (so as to avoid cutting the sewn-in groundsheets) and sure enough, there was all their footware stacked up in heaps outside. None of them were too concerned last night about washing before jumping into their sleeping bags in their clothes but this morning I made all of them wash their faces and hands before they had breakfast and they all did without any complaint, queuing up in the bathroom to use the washbasin and the old towels that I’d put out for them. They eventually decided that they’d like to buy some bread for breakfast, so I said I’d take a couple of them down in my car to the little shop in Thonac. One of them flashed his wallet that was otherwise empty but for a fresh 10€ note that I guess his Mum had given him before he left and they insisted on using their own money to buy it. I dropped them off while I turned the car round and then went in to see how they were doing. From the look of it, I thought that they must have bought up nearly the whole bread stock, because in the usual French way, they had bought enough bread to feed a whole brigade (with no change from the 10€). By way of explanation, they said that they’d bought some for their mid-day meal as well 😀

I have to say that the two in my car smelt a little bit niffy, but that’s boys for you and mine were the same when they were that age if left to their own devices. When we got back, I gave ’em all knives and plates, glasses for their orange juice and milk, a bit of butter and jam and a bread knife and left them to get on with it and they all sat round the table in my garden chattering away like parakeets. They politely asked if I’d like to join them for breakfast, but I smiled and said that I’d already eaten. This surprised them because they didn’t think that anyone could possibly have got up any earlier than them! Afterwards they offered to help me take the tents down ‘so as not to disturb me’ (ha ha – bit too late for that!!) but I said that I’d do it myself when they’d gone so they could pack all their stuff up and get themselves organised. Surprisingly, they eventually did, although we did have a minor crisis when one of them spotted a small spider on his rucksack and wouldn’t pick it up until it had been dealt with. I don’t think he’ll be a future candidate for the French Foreign Legion 😉

So some time later there they all were with their rucksacks on their backs, some almost as big as the small boys underneath carrying them, and their scout hats on. They all thanked me very politely for having them, bade their farewells and went straggling off down the road looking like a bunch of refugees clutching their bread and sundry other objects that they hadn’t managed to get into their rucksacks. Oh to be able to return to the innocent (if somewhat smelly) pleasures of youth. I have to say, I did have to give the bathroom a good old clean up and spray round when they’d gone 😕

Here are the first two of some pics I took this morning showing the tents that I’d dug out of my ‘cave’. They must be around 40 years old if they’re a day, but fortunately still managed to save the day (or night, actually).

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The last shot is of them having breakfast in my garden this morning. That’s the older one at the end of the table who I guess was ‘in charge’. He didn’t have much to say for himself, funnily enough, unlike the other lot who were full of questions about everything. Just couldn’t shut em up 🙂

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Rural life in France – what can you say eh? I bumped into my neighbour Jean-Claude’s wife, Chantalle, just after they’d gone. She’d seen that I’d had visitors last night and I said that yes, it had been very amusing. She said that they’d knocked on her door before mine and that after she’d said ‘No’, she’d seen them then go up to my door, and had thought, ‘Oh dear, if Roger says ‘Yes’ to them, I wonder if he knows what he’ll be letting himself in for?’ I told her that it hadn’t been too bad, but that if she thought there was a chance that they might come back next year, I might have to consider moving 😐