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Alarm clocks, of some form or other, become a more and more essential item as the week progresses. The alarm sounds are a personal choice and reflect the character of the user. For instance Mrs Philo’s alarm resembles a blend of a Summer dawn chorus and a Mendelssohn concerto. Mrs Mehta’s, on the other hand blends Beethoven’s 1812 with an Audi car alarm. Both are effective in assisting the room mates in starting their morning.
Mr Gaskell and Mr Farinha, in contrast, have learned the hard way the difference between the snooze button and another night’s sleep.
As I ambled along the corridor I could hear the various sounds emanating from the rooms. The muffled weariness of the children, the ever joyful sprightliness of Mrs Mehta and a blood curdling scream from Mr Gaskell who obviously still hasn’t mastered the shower settings yet.
It was a return to the normal routine this morning with the children filing in to create/build/construct/make their lunchtime baguettes. Although practice has seen their understanding of the task improve tiredness has had a detrimental effect on their performance. Morgan spent a good 20 seconds spreading butter on his baguette before realising that the butter he thought was on the knife was now residing on the floor!
Breakfast eaten/thrown in the vague direction of their mouths, the group boarded the bus for our final trip into Paris. Obi Lynne’s Padawan, Captain Drake, had once more ensured that the start of our journey was traffic free but sadly even their joint powers were unable to prevent us eventually being caught up in a Parisian traffic jam. Once again we were given the opportunity to witness the wonders of Paris’ traffic. I love Parisian rush hour traffic. It is an observational writer’s dream. Firstly, the name “rush hour”. Did the inventor of the term realise the irony of his phrase? The one thing no-one in Paris traffic can do is rush! Secondly, indicators. All cars have indicators. In Britain drivers move the indicator stalk up and down to show which way they wish to turn (unless of course they are a BMW driver, in which case they use the indicator stalk to hang an air freshener from). In Paris indicators are used after the event to remind the driver who has just been cut up what has happened and why his passenger now has their face pressed against the windscreen. Thirdly, motorbikes/mopeds. I would like to say that they appear to follow a different set of road rules, but alas they appear to have no rules what so ever. We were all astounded to watch one biker/moped rider/organ donor, so appalled by other traffic blocking his way that he chose to mount the curb and ride, at speed, along the path scattering pedestrians as he went. A reminder of the old traffic safety campaign ‘keep death of the road……. drive on the pavement’!
The children were kept entertained by yet another quiz and Mr Farinha once more impressed/worried us with his encyclopaedic knowledge of chick flicks. No man should really admit to knowing that Robert Pattinson, who played Cedric Diggory in the Harry Potter film franchise, was also the star of Twighlight and that it was a really awful movie!!
We arrived at the foot of Montmartre and gazed up at the Sacre Coeur glinting ethereally in the beautiful Parisian sunshine. Or at least, that is what the staff members saw. The children just saw more steps! Mr Mander saw the tarmac and learned that, no matter how tired you are, tying your shoelaces is well worth the effort. He was helped up by a concerned shop keeper who dusted him down and then attempted to sell him an Eiffel Tower key ring. If it had been shiny bracelets he may have been interested!
On reaching the top a quick comfort break was followed by a discussion about the price charged to use the facilities. In total the group had paid ten euro. Mr Gaskell pointed out they had paid ten euros to spend a penny. Kaysie added ‘We could have had a crepe for that!’ Mrs Mehta at first looked shocked and then made a note to check herself in for a hearing test.
Having viewed the magnificent basilica itself and taken in the awesome views of the city (this time an uninterrupted view for Mrs Philo) we quickly made our way around to the artist’s square. As is tradition on these trips many of the children wished to have their portraits drawn by one of the many street artists. As is also tradition Mrs Mehta set about securing a fair price. The artist started at thirty euro but, with a mere waft of Obi Lynne’s hand he soon agreed that a: ten euro was a reasonable price and b: following this he must travel to the Dagobah system and search out Yoda.
While the artist worked his magic the other children had time to peruse the wares of the surrounding shops. Juliet at last found the beret she had been longing for. Miss Drake secured 2 cat place mats. That is placemats with cats on, not placemats for her cats! Yet more Eifel towers of a variety of sizes were bought, alongside numerous small artworks. During this time Mr Gaskell was accosted on several occasions by the same artist desperate to draw him. His final attempt at persuading Mr G was “I’ll make you look handsome!’ To which Mr Gaskell replied “You’re an artist not a miracle worker!’ and the conversation stopped.
The children also had the opportunity to purchase crepes, ice cream or that most traditional French culinary delight…. Starbucks! Or, in Kaysie’s case, all of the aforementioned. She is quickly earning the acronym WMD – Weapon of Mass Digestion.
Lunch was taken on the steps of the Sacre Coeur where we enjoyed our baguettes and Mrs Warriner tried out a new beauty treatment, the salad cream face pack! Opening a sachet with your teeth always has inherent risks. We rejoined the coach and travelled the short distance to the Stade de France for a guided tour of the arena.
Sebastian, our guide for this tour was enthusiastic, knowledgeable and a little eccentric and he kept all entertained quoting facts and regaling stories about the stadium and the people and teams that had performed or played there (think a French Mr Stevens). He was a keen rugby supporter and quickly sort revenge for France’s dismal loss to England in the recent six nations championship by locking Mr Gaskell up in the stadium’s own prison. Mr Gaskell had the last laugh though:
Sebastian: you are charged with the crime of being disorderly. What is your name?
Mr Gaskell: Carl Thornton
The final part of the tour saw the staff seated in the VIP section of the stadium as Mrs Mehta was suitably promoted to the position of French President and Mr Farinha to First Lady (we did warn him about the chick flicks!)
Returning to the chateau we quickly ate before the children were whisked away for the final evening event, a campfire. Here they would sing camp songs and toast their marshmallows – if they stood to close – but I was afforded a little time to myself and so can say little about it except as they all returned smelling like Arbroath Smokies they appeared to have had a fantastic time.
As they head to their beds for the final time, the children are sad that their time in Paris is coming to a close. As the adults head towards their beds their feelings are slightly different/polar opposites. All good things must come to an end and tomorrow we head back to Rugby and the warm embrace of our loved ones. Wish us godspeed.
Ever yours

Hugh Jabellie.

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

Today started at the only moderately unsociable hour of 7:20, meaning most were awake around 6. In the male staff bedroom there was a certain sense of relief. Mr Farinha had assured Mr Gaskell that he would sleep like a baby. Mr Gaskell has assumed that this meant Mr Farinha would be awake every three hours screaming and crying until he was fed. Happily, as it turned out, Mr Farinha sleeps like a father!
The group quickly assembled for their first challenge, the ever eventful baguette making. This is the simple activity of buttering and filling a baguette that would be their dinner. When presented with the essential tools (a baguette, a knife, butter) many appeared a little lost and confused. Some used the butter as a spread, some attempted to use it as a topping and others used it as grout! On to the next station where they were to fill their baguette which, particularly for those who had buttered the outside, was to be a challenge. Trying to stuff salad, hams, cheese and (of course) tuna it what was a culinary bar of soap took dexterity and no little amount of concentration.
Dinner created, breakfast devoured we headed to the bus for our journey into Paris. The journey was by our drivers admission remarkably clear, no doubt due to Obi Lynne’s influence, but still allowed the children to demonstrate their dubious general knowledge through a number of ‘quizzes’. First up was a film quiz where Mr Farinha demonstrated a very impressive, if rather concerning, knowledge of ‘chick flix’.
Next up general knowledge. Question “What does the ‘e’ in e-mail stand for.?” First response from unknown child “internet” (Captain Drake makes note to check spelling levels of all year 6 pupils!). Response 2 (shouted with great confidence if little accuracy/thought) “e-mail”! Mr Gaskell suggests that we try the next question. “Where to mosquitoes lay their eggs?” Response: “ In a very small nest” Can we change the theme of the quiz? We did and their responses to questions about chocolate bars and sweets were considerably more accurate.
On arrival at the Eiffel Tower all were amazed at its sheer size. Jess was aghast at the prospect of climbing to the top. She was certain she couldn’t do it. She was adamant she didn’t want to do it and, a couple of hours later she was standing at the top, lapping up the vista and declaring to all that she’d do it again tomorrow! A proud moment for all as we witnessed her challenge herself and ultimately manage her fear of heights to succeed so brilliantly.
The progress for all the children was slow and steady and our arrival at the summit was tremendous achievement for all. This was only tempered slightly by constantly having to duck under ‘selfie sticks’! It would appear that every other tourist at the tower was armed with one of the god forsaken devices. Mr Gaskell decided they should be renamed the narcissist stick! A far more accurate description I must agree.
A quick descent from the tower and Mrs Warrener was glad to find herself back on terra firma, the more firmer the less terror, and we found our way to the Champ du Mar where we sat in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower and ate our dinner.
The afternoon was to see the group walk to The Louvre where, outside the building, the children and staff would take photos of the magnificent museum, the modern glass pyramid and a two hundred year old statue that appeared to be ‘dabbing’. Proving that all fashions have routes in the past.
Onward to Notre Dame with Lina and Lauren testing Mr Gaskell’s rather limited understanding of French. A brief stop to admire this wonderful structure with its weird gargoyles and massive circular window and then back toward the bus. Our route to the pick up point would take us past a number of souvenir shops which tempted the children in with a veritable smorgasbord of delights. And the children did give in to these temptations! Very soon Manasseh was adorned in Paris baseball cap and 70s style shades and doing a passable Parisian Gangsta rap impression. The ever adorable Eiffel Tower key rings were purchased, along with a Parisian Flamencos fan which is either a fantastic statement of togetherness between France and Spain or just proof if you print images of the main tourist sites on anything it’ll sell.
Returning to the chateau we assembled for dinner and were happy to surprise Matilda with a birthday cake, a rendition of happy birthday sung by all in the dining room and a lovely birthday present from home. She was truly surprised as a: she hadn’t suspected anything and b: it wasn’t actually her birthday…. I jest, it was and I am sure it will be one she remembers for many years.
Our evening event was ‘Wacky Races’ with children facing a variety of challenges within team rallies. There were a number of Oscar potential performances (provided, of course, they read out the correct result) with Pavel’s ‘chicken laying an egg’ and Manasseh’s ‘run like a dinosaur’ worth special mention. However the most impressive performance required no acting what so ever. The award for ‘person looking most terrified as they realise that their about to be involved in a nigh on cataclysmic collision’ goes to Lauren. Let me explain. Race 2 instruction: the first person runs to the first cone and curls up on the floor to be a hurdle. The second person runs, hurdles the first person, gets to the second cone and stands, legs astride, to form a bridge. Third person hurdles first, passes through the legs of second, reaches 3rd cone puts out arms to be a turnstile. All is going well. First person, group 4 makes hurdle, 2nd person (Lauren) hurdles first, gets to 2nd cone adopts leg bridge stance. 3rd person (Peter – minus hat) hurdles first, ducks low to pass unhindered through Lauren’s leg bridge and reaches third cone. Fourth person is Manasseh. He thunders down the court, launches himself over the first person and continues (with considerable inertia) toward Lauren. It is said that a picture can say a thousand words. If I could have created a picture of Lauren’s face at this point it would have said only two…… “Oh” and “hell!” Manasseh, it must be added, had also realised that the immediate future looked destined to be…. painful and took the Titanic approach e.g. more speed and made a token effort to duck. Thankfully Lauren has a: quite long legs b: a considerable athletic/gymnastic ability c: a passionate desire to live and all these combined to help her vault over the incoming Manasseh. I hasten to add it was this attitude and determination that ultimately saw team 4 win the overall competition.
Now, the hour is late and the corridors quiet. Dreams are filled with the heady heights of today’s successes and perhaps wonder at what lies ahead.
Tomorrow will be a new challenge. A visit to a local market to buy the ingredients needed to make their own dinner. I can see Lina, a fluent French speaker, being in high demand. Not least by the staff.
But that will be a tale for another day and until that day arrives I remain,
Ever yours,

Hugh Jabellie

Day 1 Return of the Jedi

Bonne soirée, un accueil du Paris ensoleillé. It is with great pleasure that I have, once more, been given the opportunity to report on the Boughton Leigh Junior School year 6 trip to France and regale tales of their adventures.
The day had started very early with excited children and sleepy adults meeting at the school gates. Mr Gaskell was clearly unimpressed about getting out of bed before the sun had chosen to but, armed with coffee so strong that the aroma could awaken a comatosed sloth from 30 paces, he and the rest of our traveling group boarded the bus. To resounding cheers and whoops of delight (from the parents) our driver Mark, returning for his fourth BLJS sojourn, turned his trusty steed to the south and made haste to Dover.
This trip also sees the return of Mrs Mehta (aka Obi Lynne) who used her Jedi powers to ensure clear traffic and swift progress.
Shortly after 6am Kasey drew everyone’s attention to the wonderful sunset that was occurring. Captain Drake made note to revise ‘time’ in maths and recover ‘the earth in space’ in Science!
Shortly after passing Milton Keynes a thick fog descended which, though not slowing our progress, did mean that we were unable to see Luton. So, not all bad then.
With a barely perceptible waft of her hand Obi Lynne cleared all traffic on the M25 and we were soon at the Queen Elizabeth bridge, Dartford. Once more the children’s rather interesting grasp of Geography came to light as one called it the Golden Gate Bridge and another agreed adding ‘We’re going to New York’ completely oblivious of the engineering feat that a bridge spanning from San Francisco to NYC would be!
Two and a half hours into the journey and obviously the children had devoured the breakfasts, sweets, lunches and generally a calorific intake just short of infinity and so a brief restock was required. A repeat of last year’s faux pas was avoided by staff members standing in the one stop, with loud hailers instructing the children to ‘move away from the pick and mix’. The bus was swiftly resupplied with such essentials as chocolate bars, sweets, Crispy Creme donuts, cuddly toys and key rings and our journey continued.
The ferry crossing was smooth but viewless as the continued fog hid the famous white cliffs like a polar bear in a snow storm. Once again essential purchases were made. A full English breakfast for Mr Gaskell, frappuccinos for several of the girls and a bar of chocolate the size of an ironing board for Dylan.
Once on French soil the fog soon lifted and the remainder of our journey would be bathed in glorious sunshine and clear blue skies. Making good progress through the French countryside we stopped briefly for a comfort break where Juliet could continue to hone her cameraman skills, this time filming a lady choosing a drink from a coffee machine, and Mr Farinha could declare Dyson hand dryers to be ‘the best thing about France!’
We skirted Paris and arrived at the Chateaus to a warm welcome from the PGL staff who showed us to our rooms in the newly open Pont Neuf wing. A swift site tour and it was time for dinner. The children were instructed that the red trays were for people with special dietary requirements, the grey trays for those without. One child then asked which tray they used if they were a fussy eater!! The staff shook their heads in embarrassment. That said everyone enjoyed a hearty meal.
The evening event was the Bin Bag Fashion show where, as you may have guessed, the children were required to create two outfits out of nothing but bin liners! They took to the challenge with gusto and enthusiasm (in the case of Mr Mander, a worrying amount of enthusiasm to show his balletesque dance moves on the cat walk *video evidence is available*). By popular vote Rebecca and Evie were declared winners and struck expert poses for their Vogue cover shots.
And so the first day has drawn to a close and the children have retired to their rooms with their heads full of memories, their bellies full of E numbers and their hands smelling vaguely of PVC. All that can now be heard is the gentle breath of sleep….. and Mr Farinha cursing the lack of Dyson hand dryers in the room as he has forgotten his towel.
Tomorrow we head to le tour Eiffel and a brief walk amongst Paris’ other famous landmarks. But for now I to will retire and wish you all a peaceful night.
Ever yours,
Hugh Jabellie

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Good morning and welcome to the blog page for this year’s Y6 trip to Paris!

Over the week we are away this page should be updated daily giving you a flavour of the trip and what the children (and staff) have been up to. Feel free to comment on the blog posts at any time, you do not need a log in, although all comments will need to be passed by our administrator (that’ll be me!). The blog will be updated by our on the spot reporter (Hugh Jabellie) and/or selected children (if they have time!)

We will also be tweeting using the school twitter handle @bljsrugby throughout the days we are there, just to let you know that everyone is safe and enjoying themselves!

We have checked the weather forecast and it would appear that we are set fair for the week! Can you please make sure that your child has sun cream and a hat (don’t mention hats to Mrs Bowler Smith!) just a precaution!

On the subject of packing, can you please also ensure that your child can carry their own bag! They are only going for a week (not a year!) and they will need to carry their bag up at least one flight of stairs to their rooms!

If you have any questions before we go please feel free to comment below and we will do our best to answer. It will be a great week and one that the children will remember forever!

See you all bright and very early (actually, possibly not so bright) on Monday morning!

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