I thought I was ready for la rentrée – i.e. going back to school, a huge affair here in France. I bought Benjy’s books way back at the beginning of July at the book fair at his lycée, and got the few new ones we needed for Caiti (on top of the ones she’s inheriting from Benj). I ordered the outstanding ones from Amazon. I had Ruadhri’s list of ‘fourniture’ filed away safely – just a few things to get there, I thought. Pretty much all dealt with.

But I’d forgotten about having to buy bags. All their rucksacks had worn out, after two years’ use, so can’t really complain. Time for new ones. And I’d forgotten about pens, paper, folders, calculators etc for my two teens, as well as Rors. And I’d forgotten about needing shoes, clothes and bedding (Caiti will be boarding at Pierre Bourdan on a weekly basis like Benj), and about sewing name tapes on pretty much everything, and about sewing covers for the cheap but naff agendas we got the guys, and about personalising Ruadhri’s rucksack with fabric paints, and about checking out where exactly the bus stop is (we’ve found somewhere nearer than Clugnat for Benj and Caiti to get on and off their bus), and about discovering what time Ruadhri’s bus will be coming, and about filling in the zillions of forms, and photocopying every vaguely relevant document the lycée demands, and about … well, I think you get my drift!

Every shop is cashing on la rentrée, and not just shops selling the relevant items. Hardware stores, garden centres, pet shops, garages, bakers – they’ve all got their rentrée offers. And we’re being bombarded with invitations to suscribe to interesting but expensive magazines in every post delivery. Commerce is grinding back into life after a lull over the holidays.

So the next few days will be busy. Then suddenly the holidays will be over and the guys will be back at school. I’ll be sad and happy at the same time. I’ll miss the kids dreadfully, it’s nice having them around all summer. But it’ll be great to have time to ourselves again – time that’s swallowed during the holidays in feeding three permanently ravenous kids; shopping to buy vast quantities of food to feed said ravenous children; bribing, bullying, begging them to help around the place; cleaning up after them; doing their washing; spending wonderful hours with them cycling, walking, reading, talking; taking them shopping for la rentrée (and that takes hours with our Caiti!). We shall be using all this ‘free’ time to get on with our next project – the Big Move. More about that imminently.

But for now, la rentrée rules. Now, where did I put those name tapes …