Ugh. Monday again. The new departure time for the lycée bus, 6.35am, is proving tough going. It’s  only ten minutes earlier than previously, but at that time of day, one minute equals about twenty! I’m going to bed at 9pm on Sunday, but I don’t tend to sleep very well as I’m worried about oversleeping, despite setting a very loud alarm for 5.45am, so it’s a bit pointless really. I get up OK and Caiti is being co-operative so we’ve made the bus so far.

Leaving the house is quite a procedure. We bump Caiti’s case on wheels down the stairs, trying to be quiet but never quite succeeding. However, it doesn’t really matter since Rors can sleep through an earthquake and Chris is already awake, sipping the coffee I’ve taken him and slowly coming to. Then there’s the inevitable last minute scramble to find something Caiti’s suddenly remembers she needs. I head out with the case and stow it in the back of the car. I chase cats and rabbits out from under the car. This morning the two goats were sat in the driveway behind it as well. They’d got loose. So they were shooed away too, but kept slinking back until I started the engine. We encounter wild life on the way most Mondays – deer or boar wandering across the road, the odd owl and at this time of year suicidal frogs leaping out at the car from the ditch. It’s never a dull journey.

It’s pitch black. And it’s pitch black at Le Poteau. I don’t know who thought of making this godforsaken spot a stopping point for the lycée buses, but he or she is a moron. The place is in the  middle of nowhere. The bus stop is just after a very bad bend. There is no street lighting and nowhere sensible to park. I pull in by a garage and the other car that’s regularly day is parking on someone’s garden. I can’t think of a worse and more dangerous place to have people assembling in the dark. (Le poteau means ‘post’ – an unimaginative name for a very dull spot.)

Boy, do I need coffee on a Monday!

The coach turns up when it feels like it, the kids grumble their way on and the parents shoot gratefully back home for caffeine. And occasionally to get dressed. I’ve done the run a couple of times in my pyjamas over the last three years when things haven’t quite gone to plan. We’ve only missed the bus once, luckily not a pyjama day, and it was because the bus had been rerouted. The powers that be decided not to let anyone know beforehand, just for a laugh. Grr.

I’m back at the house by 6.55 these days (the bus stop is 11 km away) and get lots done in the kitchen before getting Rors up at 7.20, and then setting off with him and Chris on our bikes at 8 to deliver Rors to his bus-stop at Nouzerines. Chris and I have our morning ride, currently incorporating fruit and nut gathering, then feed anglers and animals before settling down to admin and work. I usually feel quite chipper still.

But by lunchtime I’m wrecked! I hate to admit it, but I’m ready for a snooze. Crikey, I’m only 49 – not 69. However, the early start is a killer. Caiti wondered about coming home on Wednesday afternoons every now and again. If she did, this would mean going through the Monday ritual on a Thursday morning too. I’ve told her that as much as I love her, there is no way I can do that twice a week. Not at these new early times. Maybe I’ll toughen up as the term goes by. I certainly hope so.

There’s an end in sight. Caiti finishes at lycée next summer and will head off to Uni. So I’ll get a four year break before having to do the dreaded Le Poteau run with Ruadhri from 2016. But that’s looking way too far ahead!

Coffee pic from