When I was at school, we went on school trips. Bear in mind that I was at primary school a good fifteen years ago, so they weren’t the kind of trips that kids go on these days. My cousins in America enjoy the elephant sanctuaries in Thailand and surfing off the coast of Hawaii… me? I went as far as Le Touquet. They were always slightly budget, but Le Touquet had to be hands down the worst school trip I ever went on. Worse that the trip to Henley Fort ( a mere twenty minutes away from home) where it rained solidly for 48 hours while we slept in tents and the teachers resided in an actual building. This was the excursion on which I tripped over a tent peg and broke my toe, and my friend dragged me by the armpits pulling my top up and baring my boobs to my form. I was far too young to be wearing a bra, but the embarrassment stuck with me for life.
So back to Le Touquet. If you have read my post on teachers you will have a bit of a background on the aforementioned trip, but we headed off all excited about visiting France and having some fun. We were eleven. Our idea of fun was fairly low, so it wasn’t expected to disappoint. We go to the hostel which seemed to be the French equivalent of a halfway house for adults, finding our rooms to be on the fourth floor and full of sand. The teachers rallied the troops for an impromptu game of football on the beach to cheer us up, after all, we couldn’t play football on a beach at home! We walked the twenty minutes to the sand for the game to be stopped as soon as it started due to the sheer amount of dog pooh under the sand. Health and safety. Back we went to beds full of sand and people banging on the doors through the night. We huddled together for safety.
The next day we all went for breakfast and in the time it took us to munch on our croissants and down our tea, one of the rooms got broken into and one of the boys wallets was stolen. So we ALL had to get on the coach and make the trip to the local police station, where we sat for four hours. We waited there, on the bus in the scorching heat because the gendarme would not let us off, possibly again for health and safety. A squashed child on the road outside the police station would have done nothing for international relations.
The next day, our last, was due to be better. Off we went, on the bus again to the local swimming pool, where we were promised a day of rapids and flumes and bobbing about to our hearts content. We didn’t even mind too much that our horrible French teacher was wearing a speedo (pass me the brain bleach!) and we frolicked and swam until home time. We had to leave the pool relatively swiftly to have time in the duty free at Calais before we went home.
But one of the girls had had her locker emptied, and therefore had no clothes to change back into. Back to the police station we went, and sat there for a further two hours while the issue got reported and all the correct paperwork got filled in. Quick sit in traffic back to Calais and straight on the ferry, do not pass go, do not stop at duty free.
So if you need to know anything about the intricate workings of a French police station then I am probably the best person to ask, but otherwise I would gloss over me when researching the country. And if anyone wants to take my on a road trip to France, please may I request we avoid Le Touquet.