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The day started at a positively sociable ten past 8 and all enjoyed the extra sleep this offered.
For many, arising from their slumber is promptly followed by a refreshing shower and, as our accommodation has only recently been built, the facilities for this are modern and more than sufficient. Their only downfall is the thermostatic tap. A device so sensitive that applying 1 picojoule difference in pressure to it can cause a temperature swing of proportion seen only on the planet Mercury. A millionth of a degree turn one way and your refreshing and invigorating shower becomes a Barista’s steam wand, a millionth the other and you are struck by frigid, iced water that could instantly cool lava. Mr Gaskell is still struggling to refine the settings. Yesterday he appeared looking like a freshly cooked lobster, this morning he was mildly hypothermic! Still, he has at least two more attempts to master this art.
For the children today there was no baguette making but instead a hearty breakfast was followed by a short bus journey to the town of Melun. Here they were tasked with purchasing their groups lunch, or at least the items required to make the midday meal. Entrusted with thirty euros the groups wandered into Melun market and began to plan their menu. All agreed that baguettes were a good place to start and, in Mr Gaskell’s group, Pavel bravely volunteered to be the first to test his knowledge of The French language. It would be fair to say that the lady running the boulangerie stall was a little eccentric but she encouraged Pavel who was attempting an interesting hybrid language incorporating English, French, German and a little sundry Eastern European. Still he successfully bought 3 fresh baguettes and was asked by the stallholder to give Prince Charles a kiss from her! Did I mention she was a little eccentric?
In Mrs Philo’s group Jacob’s response to the task of buying food for the group but nothing that needed cooking was to suggest raw pasta! Mrs Philo quickly pointed out that her teeth were all her own and she intended to keep it that way and so wouldn’t be eating raw pasta.
Meanwhile Mr Farinha was cheating. He assisted his group to overcome their ‘French meal challenge’ by finding a Portuguese stall, spending twenty minutes chatting to the stall holder (in Portuguese) and buying the ingredients for a Portuguese chicken meal. Granted it wasn’t a Nando’s but it was pretty darn close!
The children continued to scour the market for that one item that would set their meal apart from the others. They decided the pig’s head on the boucherie stall was possibly a step too far but that did not prevent the boucher from picking it up and offering it to them! One child commented that they would like tuna. A quick visit to the poissonnier saw them add that they preferred it to come out of a tin!
Mr Gaskell’s group had noted a hot chicken stall that also sold cooked sausages and decided they would make hot dogs. Pavel was quick to point out that they would not be making the meal for another ninety minutes or so by which time they would be cold dogs! Unperturbed they pressed on with their plan. Lauren bravely asked “Parlez vous anglais?” To which the stall holder responded “No I don’t speak English.” in English before continuing the conversation in French!
Eventually the children felt they had sufficient supplies. Indeed they had purchased a wide variety of delicious treats. Cheeses, olives, lettuce, tomatoes, sausages, melon (hardly surprising), apples, strawberries and cakes (of which the purchasing of one by Pavel from the same eccentric bakery stall holder had been done with such a wildly erratic combination of languages that she’d asked whether he was Dutch!) would all take pride of place on our lunchtime table. Alongside Portuguese custards tarts and other Iberian delicacies but, as these were cheating we’ll move on.
Freed of their culinary task the children then took to purchasing treasures to adorn their homes a reward the love and care of their families. Eiffel Towers were a particular favourite with most choosing key rings of the iconic Parisian structure. Harry L, on the other hand, decided to buy one as close in size to the real thing as he possible could. He proudly carried this massive recreation around the market having first put a light on top to prevent light aircraft from crashing in to it. Other treasures would include model L’arc De Triumphes sealed in a resin block, fake plastic watches (guaranteed to be accurate at least twice daily), Frankie M’s selection of glittery bracelets (which he assured us were for family members but he appeared to enjoy wearing them just a little too much) and Lisa W’s….. green…. thing. It is hard to describe the green thing. It is green. It is made of a rubbery material. It is squidgy. It looks like something that fell out a Disney Monsters Inc character’s nose.
Back at the chateau the children set to the task of preparing and presenting their food in order that Claire (our host and guide) could judge a winner. The food looked wonderful, the presentations were artistic and dramatic and Mr Farinha was still cheating. Claire ultimately chose Mrs Mehta’s group as the winner which was no surprise as a: their selection and presentation of the foods was truly impressive b: there was a movement in the force.
The afternoon would see the children and staff face the challenge of the Trapeze (a climb up a thirty feet tall pole and jump to a trapeze) and the climbing wall. Jess Y overcame her fears to reach heights she hadn’t dreamed of. Juliet stepped up to lead her team through team building challenges. Harry L was the only person to succeed in the Spider-Man manoeuvre on the climbing wall and thus find himself inverted. Jovraj and Mason both scurried up the trapeze pole like the proverbial rat up a drain pipe to launch themselves at the trapeze with happy abandon. Meanwhile Jamie L-S spent the afternoon with a grin so wide her ears were in danger of becoming detached. Their actions and reactions were a privilege to behold and the staff and I were all proud to be associated with them.
Meanwhile Mr Farinha was attempting the Trapeze. His slow and somewhat shaky journey up the pole betrayed his fear. As he clung to the top like a inanimate koala bear his situation and state of mind were not assisted by Mason’s attempt at a motivational/supportive/inspirational comment:
“Remember Mr Farinha, there’s only a very small percentage chance that you’ll fall off!”
Despite that I can report that Mr Farinha, like so many of the children, adapted, overcame and conquered! It was awesome!
This evening the children have made a huge pile of crepe! With aid of chef Warriner (think ‘Mary Berry’ but with better skin) they learned the difference between crepes and the filling options. They then measured out ingredients and whisked to make beautiful light crepe batter. Apart from our head boy’s group whose inaccurate measurement caused them to create a mixture cemex would have been proud of. Still it may not have made great crepe but if you need your walls re skimming then they may be in business.
Now the hour is late and tomorrow promises yet more excitement with a second journey into the Parisian maelstrom.
I look forward to reporting on your brilliant children’s next adventures and remain your obedient servant,

Hugh Jabellie

2 Responses to “Paris day 3 – Mangetout, Mangetout!”

  1. Evie's Mum says:

    Another fun packed day for the children. So glad they’re having such a brilliant adventure. Mildly disappointed that it wasn’t Evie who bought the hugest Eiffel Tower but then a) we know she doesn’t really like to spend her hard earned (NOT) money and b) I still have another two children to send to Paris, so there’s still some hope!
    Hoping that Mr Farinha’s terrible cheating example isn’t brushing off on the children. Still, if you have a unique skill, why not use it? If it resulted in Portuguese egg custards, I’d have done it too!
    Enjoy your last day everyone x

  2. Lina's papi says:

    Quelle journée bien remplie. Pauvre M. Gaskell et sa douche capricieuse. Qu’il se rassure, bientôt, il n’y aura plus de robinet mais seulement une application waterproof d’une extrême précision. Quant à M. Farinha, je ne sais pas s’il faut donner sa débrouillardise en exemple aux enfants mais comme le dit la maman Evie quand on a une compétence pourquoi ne pas l’utiliser ?
    Je vois que le repas a été bien copieux et sans doute de qualité car les produits du marché sont les meilleurs et (parfois) les moins chers.
    Ce fut un après-midi particulièrement aventurier, aventureux et sportif. Bravo à ceux qui ont surmonté leurs peurs pour grimper on the top comme vous dites, je crois. Ce château parait bien accueillant et il ne serait pas surprenant que les enfants en garde de nombreux et beaux souvenirs.
    Nombreux et beaux souvenirs seront aussi aujourd’hui les moments passés à Montmartre, l’un des lieux de Paris les plus spectaculaires et chargés d’histoire. Le Sacré Coeur, la place du Tertre, ses bistrots typiquement français, les vignes de la Butte, etc.
    Bonne journée sous le soleil mais un peu fraîche quand même.

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