Rentrée Day (R) – 8: Definitely time to check that you’ve got bus passes for your children if they’re using la ramassage scolaire (school transport), and that you have the timetable. Ours all arrived a week or so ago. Rors doesn’t have a bus pass for his primary school transport. That’s organised and funded by the three Mairies in our school co-operative i.e. Nouzerines, St Marien and Bussière St Georges. It’s a fantastic free service which we’re very grateful for. His bus is leaving six minutes earlier in the mornings from outside Nouzerines school. We could get him collected from home but we’ve opted this year, like last, to cycle or walk him down to Nouzerines instead. It saves him from having to spend nearly half an hour pottering along the country lanes around and about here. Caiti gets an Iris carte which entitles her to heavily subsidised travel on what is in theory public transport, but which is clearly tailored to getting lycée students to Gueret at an appropriate time. Her bus is also leaving earlier in the mornings. We will have to be at Le Poteau, 11 kms away, by 6.35 am, instead of 6.45 am. Those extra ten minutes early are going to be extremely painful. I hate Mondays already. And both of them are getting back a bit later in the evenings too.

R-7: Agenda or cahier de textes ? Primary school children and up will need one of these. But which? Some schools specify which to buy, some provide them free, others leave it up to you. I side firmly with agendas. These are student’s diaries that run for the school year with, usually, a page per school day and smaller allowances for weekends and the summer holidays. Kids write down the day’s homework on the appropriate page. Now cahier de textes are weird, but they’re what Ruadhri’s last two teachers have demanded. They’re like this inside. You write down homework on the day it’s due in, which is crazy, especially for youngsters. So it means scrabbling through the book to check out what’s due when, instead of having it all presented on one page that you can tick off when it’s done.

R-6: Coats. In the blazing summer weather when you’re getting ready for the rentrée, it’s easy to forget that the kids will need coats, and most likely fairly soon. But I’ve found it hard to find good coats in France. There’s been a recent trend towards bomber jackets, which are dumb articles of clothing, in my opinion. If it’s cold enough to warrant a nice padded jacket on your top half, then for heaven’s sake, that warmth needs to continue down over your bum and thighs. I succumbed to a bomber jacket back in Ireland and my butt was either freezing or soaking or both all that winter. These things should be banned. So coat shopping is never easy. The two boys have super-heavy parkas currently up in the attic, but they’re deep winter wear. We still need something intermediate. Rors has an ancient rain jacket that’s not terribly waterproof any more, but Benj goes without. He’s tough. Caiti has a flimsy black jacket that’s very fashionable but that’s all it is. I shall have to hit for some decent kagoules and take the hit on the postage. (Kagoules are called k-ways here but are always remarkably fragile.)

Oops, this is turning into a bit of a rant, so I’ll save the last few days for a future post and have a nice calming cup of tea!