By about 8:45pm on Sunday the 27th of May 2012, all of the thirty S1 students and three teachers (Mrs Gall, Miss Smith and Mr Harrison) had gathered in the car park to go to Normandy, France. The journey was overnight, hence the pillows and blankets. Once everybody was aboard, the ‘Parks of Hamilton’ coach set off. We went down to Dover and caught a ferry in the early morning over to Calais. We then drove along to the district of Mayenne, arriving at “La Chateau du Tertre” at about 4.00 in the afternoon. It was a long and sometimes boring journey.
Things improved immediately when we met our activities leader Kate, who showed us to our accommodation. We had some time to get organised before dinner. After dinner we did Passport to the World, where we ran about answering questions about different countries and performing forfeits in groups. Quite a lot of people enjoyed the forfeits, while others weren’t so sure.
One of the important things we had to get used to in France was the time difference. It was an hour ahead in France, which meant when the fire alarm went off (twice) on Tuesday morning we were all shivering outside and it seemed rather early. After breakfast we had some more free time before we met Kate for our first activity. We went to Ernee Marche. We went around the market in groups of five, trying to buy the ingredients to make our lunch. It was very interesting trying to speak French and we’re sure the stallholders thought much the same. When we got back to the Chateau we made our own lunch using the ingredients we’d bought. It was very messy but everyone enjoyed it, possibly because we got to eat our “delicieux” creations.
After lunch we did team challenge and climbing, both of which were done in groups of ten. They were very enjoyable and had lots of memorable incidents.
On Wednesday we went to Fougeres and went on a town trail, answering questions and following directions in French. We learnt a lot about France there. We also had a picnic before getting back on the bus. Then we went to Mont Saint Michel and climbed up a bit (once it stopped raining). The view from the top was very nice and afterwards we went to look round the shops. When we got back we had our dinner and played some Wide Games. These were basically games which could be played in wide-open spaces, such as tig. Brendan who took us for that activity was very funny and put up with quite a lot, including his new nickname - “Soggy” - courtesy of Chelsea.
In the morning on Thursday we walked into Ambrieres where we went to a French bakery. We saw a video about making French bread and got to make and eat some croissants and pain au chocolat. They were very nice and it was really interesting. On the way back to the chateau we went to a hypermarket - a really big supermarket. After lunch we did raft building, where everyone got very wet as they dragged rope, barrels and poles back to shore. Afterwards there were lots of games which some people loved but others hated. One of the highlights was ‘Soggy’ living up to his nickname as Ru chucked him in the river. Our evening activity was campfire and everyone helped pile twigs and branches onto the fire and toasted (or cremated) marshmallows. Soggy/Brendan put up with us yet again for this activity. On Friday we all packed and tidied up the dormitories before we had lots of free time. We played some games such as save the president in the morning and later on we had a disco. We finally left France with lots of new memories and experiences (including snails/escargots, which were met with mixed reactions). We had our dinner on the ferry and eventually reached Thornhill just after five in the morning.
By Josie Fairley Keast, with input from other S1 pupils.