As ever, the end of term was a turbo-charged affair — Matilda had exams, Bea said farewell to primary school, Martha railed against the class re-jig for next year, Joe and I had various deadlines and bits of the house fell apart.
All in all it was a relief to load up the car and head for France on the very first day of the summer holidays. I’m not sure why, but we have never done this before. I think I always felt that we needed a breather at the end of term, a period of decompression, as it were, before embarking on our holiday.
But simply closing the door on the house, on work and on school, worked brilliantly. I think we’ll do it again. I never really achieved anything in that limbo week between the end of term and our great escape: the packing was always done in a rage at the last minute, the house was usually a mess and the girls put all their excited energy into bickering.
No time for any of that this year: the girls did their own packing (I bought three small suitcases from Ikea and told the girls to pack whatever they wanted as long as they promised to bring enough underwear, their swimming things and one jumper), and on the 25th July we were up, breakfasted and on the road in record time.
Of course, now we that we are back the circus has started all over again, though it’s a little less manic as no one needs to be up at the crack of dawn and everyone is in a good mood. But still, I seem to spend my days making lists and chasing around after stuff: Bea needs a uniform, Matilda’s uniform needs upgrading, Martha would like a uniform but doesn’t need one, the garden looks like a jungle and the house is still crumbling (but as the weather is good we can ignore the holes in the roof for a bit). France is a distant memory.
French Leave — An unauthorized or unannounced departure; absence without permission: he seems to have taken French leave. ORIGIN mid 18th cent.: said to derive from the French custom of leaving a dinner or ball without saying goodbye to the host or hostess. The phrase was first recorded shortly after the Seven Years’ War (1756–63); the equivalent French expression is filer à l’Anglaise, literally ‘to escape in the style of the English.’