Updated: Feb 10
We got there in the end, rather frazzled and exhausted, if I am honest. Despite saying I would take time off to ensure she had 100% of my attention for her last few weeks with us, here in France, unexpected work got in the way a little. Sometimes things move forward at an unexpected pace, these things happen don't they? We have to roll with the punches and the first issue of the magazine needed some of my time off. I wanted to give it more attention but in the end I couldn't. That said I'm so proud of the first issue of Simply French Living Magazine, our new beginnings and of course the team behind it. We got there in the end and the only way from here is up. Thank you to those of you who have always supported and cheered us on. It's so nice when other folks will us to succeed. This magazine was as much of a surprise to me as it was to you lot believe me!
Anyway all is well. She's mid way through her first university week, Freshers shenanigans a go go and we are now home playing catch up! Bless her, only a few nights in and she feels like poop! All those lovely Freshers germs, over consumption of alcohol and of course the immune system making very sure, those pre uni nerves are turned into a terribly sore throat with side order of a wracking cough! Gotta love the internal eco system under stress! I had of course secretly stocked her bathroom cabinet with all sorts of lurgy remedies, but they haven't cut the mustard and she's off to the doctors tomorrow. It's times like these, I would have driven to get her home to her own bed but not this time eh! Her online lectures have started in true pandemic style and this worries me slightly. Theres nothing worse for young adults than isolated learning, is there, but they are the 'pandemic kids' by now and well versed in coping with online everything, including boozy quiz meet ups! Gotta salute their ability to adapt!
Our journey back to the uk was nearly scuppered twice! Inconveniently the Range Rover decided it needed its own special garage spa break, so we hired a big car for all that 'stuff' she absolutely had to cram into her tiny room. Only, in a true French customer service style or should I say lack of any customer service, they emailed us the day before cancelling the car! No reason, no call to see if they could help, nothing! We managed to hire another car but from Bordeaux airport which is a long three hour round trip from here! We did said trip on the train and then taxi after shopping, on one of the most humid days ever! It would seem that the pandemic forced many car hire companies to sell their fleets! Anyway, the Teen needed to finish off her Ikea haul and other god knows what shopping, which included a trip to Apple for her well done on her A'level results pressie! Cheeky, lucky bean bag! Sadly, we never made it to Ikea! We ate ice cream as we went which in turn gave me erm.... 'digestive issues' and the trip became a bit of a nightmare really. I felt terrible, as my tummy issues always ruin everything these days and the Teen was terribly unimpressed! Oops!
Also, with everything that was going on, he ended up booking the travel Antigen tests and he had told me they were at 2.30pm on the Saturday, as we would travel on the Sunday night, there wasn't really any room for error. All good? No of course not! At 1pm on said Saturday, I noticed the booking papers on the table and a quick glance told me we were in BIG BIG trouble! The appointments at the pharmacy were for 10.30 am and long gone! Oh dear (harsh words were used in abundance). Anyone that lives in France will know that getting anything done, after 12 noon on a Saturday is nigh on impossible. We rang everywhere in sheer panic with no joy! I was busy finding out if there was anywhere near the port, we could go to in an emergency when he struck gold! There was indeed a travel clinic at the local Pole Sante and it was still open! Amen to that! When we arrived, we quickly realised we weren't the only travelling screw ups thankfully!
Antigen tests done and hire car got, we got busy very last minute packing. I don't know why we all had packing lethargy, it was all a bit messy and we were all super irritated! In fact we seemed to bicker for the last two weeks before she kinda left home. Not just me and her but me and him and him and her! It was pretty stressful and everything being down to the wire didn't make things very nice.
Once we made Caen and found some supper for me with nightmare special tummy, we relaxed a bit. The three of us shared a cabin and apparently, I ruined her sleep by snoring! Of course I don't remember doing this, so really it never happened did it! Once off the ship in the morning, we drove to Oxford, had lunch and then attended some pre booked educational psychology appointments. That done we headed to York and the airbnb we usually stay in.
By the time we unloaded, we were collectively and utterly exhausted. The apartment was absolutely stifling and honestly it wasn't as clean as it should have been. In fact when the Teen took a much needed shower, the shower room flooded. Part shower had, she was resigned not to going out that evening! I tried everything to unblock the trap and it was absolutely disgusting, but in the end we had to wait for a plumber to come out and fix it the next morning.
That first evening in York, she ordered a meal in via Deliveroo in protest and he said he'd treat me to the best fish n chips in York (Gluten Free). So we walked, a bit travel worn, warm, smelly and bedraggled from the apartment into the city centre. Sadly they had 'run out' of gluten free batter so we had chips and mushy peas sat on the steps overlooking York Minster. I can think of worse places to eat alfresco whilst people watching! The air was finally cooling down and I felt like I could finally breathe.
The next few days were filled with little more than the Teens appointments and a quick visit to see my parents. She also had a party to go to which probably wasn't that wise the night before, the night before moving into Uni halls! She pulled an all nighter and when we reached the hotel in Oxford she disappeared and wasn't seen again till breakfast. Him and I meanwhile had a lovely meal before collapsing in a heap!
Move in day dawned and we were all on fine form for a change. All quite excited for her new adventure. We had a 9 am, 20 minute slot to unload and unpack. The pressure was real! There was also was a rumour, that only one parent would be allowed in with their offspring, but it wasn't enforced. We arrived early and because we were in a French registered car, they let us get straight on with it, which was much needed in the end. She got her keys to a 10 bed flat in a modern gated community, top floor, no lifts on another hot and humid day! Oh my goodness, up and down we went for what seemed like hours, dripping as we went! No gym membership will be necessary I feel! There appeared to be no air in the flat, which was lovely by the way, the flat I mean not the lack of air! We dumped everything, claimed a little kitchen and fridge space and went straight out for her first food shop! I'd already done the dried goods, spices and cleaning bits. Honestly, we entered M&S and she was off like a trolley possessed maniac! The result was way too much fresh food for her tiny given fridge space! Why do they do that! 2 fridge freezers for 10 people? Stupid! Anyway, I shoved it all in best I could and prayed no one would complain. You'd laugh, as much later I rang her to ask what she'd had for supper and she answered 'a pot noodle'!!!!!!
If I had ever really believed Uni would be infinitely cheaper than boarding school, I was rudely reminded that it will be around the same = BANKRUPTCY! Tuition, accommodation, set up, living allowance, travel, clothes, books,.......need I go on?
No I don't think so.
So we left her on the first night to do whatever she did. It was bitter sweet, but we weren't quite done yet. Him and I decided to stay a couple of extra nights (just in case) but in a nice hotel in Woodstock, child free! Happy days but the Teen had demanded Sunday afternoon late lunch with us, the parentals and her friends, which we dutifully took care of. Secretly, I'm so proud of her and willing this move to Oxford to read Law to be a roaring success. She, is of course used to living away from home after boarding at school, most of her school life, so that's not new but there's no doubt this feels different. She's 20 in December and no longer really needs me, sadly. My job here is done I guess? Did I do a good job? I certainly tried hard enough I feel. I was a little anxious for her and for me but we will be okay, both of us. The last baby is always the forever baby and that makes this last pull on the apron strings a little harder than with the other two. I will always be her Mummy and she will always be my precious girl. Nothing can take that from us, not even that thing called 'growing up'.
I digress. Our hotel mini break stay was a tale of two halves. A beautiful room in an expensive hotel that couldn't cope with me, a Celiac, even though we had forewarned. The bed was too soft for him and therefore he ended up with sciatica, which only equalled to extra Man Grumps! The service was also rubbish and I could tell it was down to lack of management and training (just call me the hotel inspector eh!). Still champagne solves most things eh?
Finally, after one last drop off of supplies to the Teen, who was in a rush to get to 'something or other', we were off to collect my dad from the station. Then off to Portsmouth to catch up with my son and his girl before getting back on the ferry!
Yesterday, we spent most of the day stuck in traffic, getting the hire car back to its base and today I can finally catch my breath a little! I'm really tired today. Travel for me gets harder and harder as I age and I am a little unexpectedly homesick for the UK. It happens.
Dad is here for his annual visit and 'Him in Doors' has cuts his hours down with one of his clients, which was much needed. Him and Dad are catching up on Man chores and keeping out of my way which is nice! There's a mountain of washing to do and so far, the Teen has kept in touch, just enough to keep us from missing her too much. I had a quick look in her room and promised to sort her left behind tat out before she's home at Christmas! I just can't even right now! I need a little break from being my youngest Child's voluntary slave for a moment or two and I have to catch up on work!
Note to self: Make sure I feed dad!
The beat goes on!
Love and gumption.