I’m not kidding. Benj has an electric bed in his room! His accommodation is awesome. My eldest son has landed on his feet following the fiasco of him not sending in a deposit to secure his first choice of slightly cheaper Uni residence. The luck of the Irish I guess.

The view from Benj's pad

We got to La Borie in Limoges just after ten and went down to book Benj in properly. He’d carefully (this time!) gone through all the paperwork and we had everything organised. He handed in a typically French meaty dossier that called for photos, insurance document, photocopy of passport, bank account details, proof of parents’ earnings, various cheques etc etc. In return he got his badge, an RFID device that lets him in through his own door, plus the residence door and the kitchen door. (Benj is next door to the kitchen which is a good and bad thing. Could be a bit noisy but it’s certainly convenient.)

Benj has ensuite loo and shower

He’s up on the third floor so once we’d found the right building, we hurried up to investigate. It’s like a ferry cabin but very new and shiny. This block has just been refurbished and it shows. It’s excellent. It’s small, as you’d expect for a student room, but ingeniously incorporates a toilet/shower room, fridge, wardrobe, desk, chair, electric bed and plenty of shelf space. The bed was parked about a foot below the ceiling and above the desk.

Bed coming down ...

After pressing all the wrong ones first, we finally found the switch which operated the bed. It slowly descended, coming to rest on some wooden supports at either side of the room. It was now roughly a foot above the level of the desk. Steps, which cunningly double as drawers, lead up to it. Now how’s that entire bed set-up for space saving!

Nearly there now!

At Stirling Uni, where I spent a year doing a postgrad degree in Publishing Studies, our bed arrangement wasn’t so crafty. It was tucked half under the bookshelves on one side of the narrow room. To use it, you had to move the chair from under the workbench/desk at the window end of the room so that you had enough space to pull the bed out a foot or so. It did perfectly, even if it meant you couldn’t swing a cat, but not quite such a neat arrangement as Benj’s electric powered rising and descending bed.

There's even a freezer compartment and ice-cube maker!

The fridge is huge. I managed four years hanging my milk and other perishables out of the window. Benj won’t need to, and probably as well since he’s very high up! It’s a luxurious finish to a super room. He’s got a nice view out over the city of high rise flats, trees and hills. I bet it’s pretty at night. He’s not too close to the road, but it’s a city so there’s traffic noise. He’ll soon tune in. All we hear here are owls and cat fights at night (Voltaire keeps picking fights with our senior cats). It’s a real change of scene for Benj but one he’s been looking forward to for ages and which he’s thrilled with.

Steps-cum-drawers on the right

We all cried when we said goodbye. It’s a big upheaval. Benj is basically leaving home now. We’ll see him for hols, of course, but he’s really moved on from us. He’s well ready for it. My last view of him today was of him heading down towards the residences, striding out purposefully into his new life, unfettered (but still financed!) by his parents.


Ruadhri came along with us today and I’m glad he did. He had lots of tearful hugs with his big brother when it was time to go, which helped him adjust and realise fully what’s going on. He’s used to Benj being away Monday to Friday. He understands now that Benj won’t be home till Christmas this time. They’re big buddies, Benj and Rors, so it’s going to be tough to start with.

Now I feel tearful again! I miss my good-natured, kind, jokey son. He’s a wonderful human being. But it’s time for me to let go so the rest of the world can find out just how great he is.

Pass me a tissue please …