6:45am: Woken by loud banging on door. Male colleague thinks it’s hilarious to wake us up along with the children when it’s his turn to do wake up call. Roommate swears through door loudly. Room smells like Camembert, although on the plus side it isn’t as warm as it has been.
7:30am: Breakfast. Children are subdued due to tiredness. I eat two croissants and when the children have finished breakfast, head into the reception/ bar area and enjoy my coffee in peace and quiet.
9am: Depart for a bakery tour. Children are briefed: Do not eat anything that is not specifically offered to you. Do not put your fingers in any machines.
9:30am: Arrive at bakery and watch baker putting excessive amounts of butter into croissants. Children do not seem to care, neither do I! Bakery tour is uneventful aside from a seemingly hungover baker whose eyes are more bloodshot than mine after two late night/ early morning combos.
10:30am: depart for Boulogne, school trip destination for pretty much every English secondary school. We see several other school groups and the shop owners are obviously making a great deal of money.
11am: Staff have cappuccinos at a café on the marketplace. A child shouts ‘Miss’ and I respond, only to be rewarded with a disgusted look from a child which does not belong to our group. I’m pretty sure I hear the recipient of the call say ‘Don’t go near her.’
11:15am: Children come to show us their purchases and I am forced to lie through my teeth when a young lady asks me if I like her hideous plastic dollar sign neck chain. Several boys have purchased flick combs despite being told under no circumstances would they be allowed to take these home or through customs is we were to be searched. They disappear with sad faces to return their purchases.
11:25am: Boys return having swapped flick combs for laser pens. They are told not to shine them in anyone’s face.
12pm: it starts to rain, so we round up our children and head for the bus.
12:30pm: picnic in the sunshine. Children want to go on the park, but there is a group of French nursery school children playing there so they are told no. They start a game of tag instead, which I’m sure the people enjoying lunch in the park are thrilled about.
1pm: We are booked into Nausicaa, a massive aquarium in Boulogne, so we head up to the reception and wait for our trip leader to collect our tickets. We then set the children loose and do not see any of them for at least an hour.
3pm: We sit down in the sea lion enclosure and hear every teacher’s worst nightmare: ‘Would a member of staff from ________ School please report to the main reception.’ It turns out some of our students have left the main area and gone to watch the penguins, and then attempted to climb over the barriers to get back in, having ignored the multiple signs stating that if you wish to re-enter you should get your hand stamped on exit. We are told by the aquarium staff that we cannot leave them unsupervised. The problem is that we still have around 30 children unsupervised inside the aquarium and it’s a pretty big place…
4pm: We finally retrieve all of our children and head back out to the bus, and back to the hotel for dinner.
6pm: We are now taking it in turns to sit opposite the bus driver as he has a weird habit of staring into your eyes during any silent point in the conversation. Also he talks about trains and engines A LOT.
7:30pm: Head down to beach. We finally find the correct route and arrive on time! We also create a plan for three staff to go down to sea with 17 children and the others stay at the top of the beach (the tide is way out and it wouldn’t be safe for children to go near the sea alone).
8pm: Plan is foiled when some children want to go back up to the top of the beach and I am asked to accompany them so they are not on their own. Halfway back I meet the two staff who were meant to stay up at the top with the other 22 children… They fancied a walk apparently. I am now left with 22 children who do not particularly want to stay near to me. I quickly lose a few and disagreements erupt when one boy kicks a football at a girl.
8:15pm: A boy limps over and says he has a thorn in his foot. He is right, and it is massive. There’s no way I can get this out without tweezers and some warm water, but each time he stands on it it’s pushing it in deeper and he says it really hurts. The other 4 staff are down at the sea, which I would say is probably nearly half a mile out. It took nearly 15 mins to walk back! Brilliant.
9pm: Other staff arrive back and my roommate takes the thorn-footed boy to a puddle of seawater, managing to successfully remove the thorn. I told you she is amazing!
9:20pm: Head over to carousel and children lose more money on candy floss and slush. I buy churros which makes my evening!
11pm: Arrive back at hotel, send children to bed and eat camembert at outside bar. Roommate and I foolishly stay up til 2am chatting!
2:20pm: Fall asleep absolutely exhausted. Room still smells of camembert and there is still almost a full one left in the fridge.