Cheerio, mate!

I almost forgot that one of the perks of being a teacher (well, in my case, an “almost” teacher) is that you get all the school vacations.  And in France, there are a lot of school vacations.  It basically adds up to about 6 weeks of school and then 2 weeks of vacation.  In fact, I am currently writing this post in the middle of my first two-week vacation, for All Saints’, or Toussaint in French.  I of course am not going to let a perfectly good vacation go to waste!  I just got back today from England, and will be going to Paris on Wednesday.

So first, England.

I went to England to visit Donna, who I’ve known for most of my life.  When I was 4 years old and my sister was 1 year old, an 18-year-old Donna took her first overseas trip to America (Kentucky, to be exact) to be our live-in nanny through an organization called Au Pair in America.  Obviously they did a fairly decent job of matching au pair and host family, since we’ve kept in touch ever since.  We would visit her in England some summers, and she would come visit us once we moved to California.  My sister and I were bridesmaids in her wedding, and she now has 2 kids of her own who are the same age as my sister and I were when she started looking after us.  They live in a small village called Chipping Norton in the Cotswolds, which is known for its rolling hills (actually created in its days under the sea thousands of years ago, so it’s not uncommon to still find whole seashells nestled in the less-travelled paths).

We of course  did the necessary shopping (there’s a huge mall about 30 minutes away from where they live, and next to it is Costco.  I repeat, Costco.  I was in wholesale heaven), and then got down to business.  We visited a farm, which actually was probably one of the highlights of the trip for me.  I felt like a kid in a candy store (a kid on a candy farm, perhaps?) and I had absolutely no shame about it, either.  I stared wide-eyed as I struggled to understand Dave the farmhand explaining in his thick accent how they milk Doddy, their Gloucester cow (did you know that every single Gloucester cow has a white tail, and every cow breed that has even the slightest bit of Gloucester mixed in will have the white tail too?!), got to hold a baby chick (it fell asleep in my hands!) and even got to pet a sheep named Shaun (he apparently loved to have his chin scratched like a dog, and he started to fall asleep too as I was doing it).  I didn’t even know I liked farms that much, but apparently they’re really, really cool.  It literally made me want to work on a farm (don’t worry Mom and Dad, I won’t actually.  Just take deep breaths.).  So, in conclusion: farms are totally cool.  Speaking of cool, did I mention (I don’t think I did yet) how terrifyingly cold it was?  I am not really a very cold person — literally (my hands are always warm) and, I hope, figuratively — but this was some sort of cruel exception to the rule.  This really was the first time I was conscious of feeling cold-related pain.  My fingers, face, feet, and every other exposed and non-exposed body part ached terribly from the bitter cold (the unrelenting wind certainly didn’t help any), and I’m beyond shocked it didn’t snow (Update: I discovered that it actually did start snowing about half an hour after my plane took off).

The next day, we took Daisy and Alfie, Donna’s kids (how adorably British are those names, by the way?!) to the cinema, where we saw an animated film about pirates.  Hugh Grant voiced the main pirate, appropriately named Pirate Captain, and the best part of the entire film was a montage set to Flight of the Conchords’ song “I’m Not Crying”.  After the film was over, we indulged in some truly authentic British fish ‘n’ chips, which were obviously DELICIOUS.

We then headed over to Blenheim Palace, where I got to see something truly incredible: a tree!  But not just any tree, my friends.  A tree that was used in the film Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.  And let me tell you: This. Was. IMPORTANT.  I had a mini anxiety attack when I saw the tree, because a) it’s actually just a beautiful f***ing tree and b) IT’S A HARRY POTTER TREE.  It’s not the Whomping Willow, but that’s okay with me.  Here’s a picture I took of the tree, and then a picture of the HP film crew.











AAAAAHHHH IT WAS SO COOL!!!!  So I’m pretty sure this means that I can credit myself as a cast and/or crew member of all 7 Harry Potter films.  Look out for my IMDb profile!

All in all though, it was so wonderful to see Donna, Ben, Daisy, and Alfie.  It’s so amazing to see that 18 years later we are still close as ever, and I look forward to her and her family being present for the important moments in my life!

Now I’ve got a few days back in Lille, and then I’m off to Paris for a bar mitzvah.  I’ll be there for quite some time with only a few bar mitzvah-related events to go to, so I’ll also be seeing friends from my summer internship last year and hopefully even my host brother from Dijon!  This is shaping up to be quite a lovely, brilliant, and smashing holiday, daaaaahling.

À bientôt mes chéris!


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