Girls with goodies!

We had a great trip to Limoges yesterday. Caiti and her friend Trish had entered the Webgeneration website design competition run by WIF (Webdesign International Festival), way back in January, and on Wednesday we learned that they had won their category (pré-Bac i.e. pre-University). So Thursday saw us at the very splendied Opéra Théâtre in Limousin’s chief city to collect their prizes – a Blackberry Playbook each. Pas mal!

The trip hadn’t got off to the greatest start. I’d had a busy morning, knee deep in freezing cold water scrubbing the sides of the swimming pool. My feet had only just thawed out in time to drive off about three to collect the girls in Guéret. They’re both at lycée there. Guéret is currently full of funfair so parking is at a premium and it took me a while to find anywhere to leave the car long enough to go and meet them. I rarely use my mobile phone, but this was one occasion I would have – if I hadn’t forgotten it. Anyway, I eventually rounded up Trish and Caiti, they threw their bags into the boot and we set off. I backed out of my very tight space. Trish piped up in a slightly anxious voice: “Um, the boot’s still open.”

And it was. Now I don’t normally drive around with the boot open, and luckily Trish knows this as we’ve given her lifts before. Why I hadn’t shut it, I have no idea. But what was more surprising was that the car even let me start the engine! Our car is a control freak. It throws a hissy fit at the slightest misdemeanour, threatening to self-destruct if you start driving off without your seatbelt on. We do this all the time since we have the gate at the end of our drive to heave open and closed again. It doesn’t seem worth buckling up for the 500m ride but our car takes this as a personal insult. It beeps increasingly loudly and shrilly until you can take no more. But there wasn’t a murmur as I was about to launch myself onto the highway with the boot wide open!

Limoges was busy but I know my way around now and remained serene as I negotiated my way through the traffic to the car park we were after. We had an hour to spare so we first of all located the Opéra which is slap bang in the  middle of the city. It is also about 100 metres from Quick, a fast food restaurant, so we went there for some sustaining chips and to watch the world go by for half an hour. Then we moseyed down to the Opéra again, ten minutes before kick-off, but we’d forgotten this is France. No one was vaguely ready. We explained who we were but were redirected firmly back down the carpeted stairs to wait in the foyer. The crowd control cordon was firmly shut behind us! It seemed we needed to wait for our contact Vanessa who was obviously the only one who really knew what was going on.

Anyway, she arrived after a while and we were allowed up to the function room for drinks and nibbles. I’d expected crisps and squash. But this was a very well funded do. It was the closing night of the WIF conference, which had been going on for three days. The nibbles incorporated quails’ eggs and caviar and were served for the most part in little silver pots with matching silver spoons. The drinks were various punches. The alcohol free one for drivers was strawberry and something else juice. And there were sweet nibbles to follow the savoury ones – macarons, mini trifles, chocolate sponges and lots of other delicious looking confections. We were very restrained and had just one savoury and one sweet nibble each. But I’m not sure why. Other people there leant up against the high tables where the food was deposited and systematically worked their way through most of the tray! We’ll come hungrier next time!

After a few speeches and a lot of electronic music, Caiti and Trish’s big moment came. I can’t remember who the person was who gave them their prizes, but he was a WIF bigwig and more importantly, very nice. The girls, both looking very elegant, got plenty of applause and cheers. There was a general move afterwards to another function room for the main event of the evening, which didn’t concern us, so we scurried away to examine the girls’ goodies. They each had the coveted Playbook, a custom-made picture featuring their website, a bag, a novelty USB key shaped like a very pink man and a notebook.  They were over the moon!

Home we went. The second we got to the car, Trish and Caiti turned their Playbooks on but needed WiFi for them to function properly so had to impatiently wait until they got home. It was a nice, uneventful drive home. We dropped Trish off on the way, avoided two deer and a hare and got home about 10 pm. Chris and Benj admired the new gizmo and even Rors popped down from bed to have a look. I yawned my way to bed, leaving Caiti happily exploring all the features on her well-deserved Blackberry!  She and Trish had put a lot of thought and work into their project, and it was pretty cool that two expat girls (Trish is from Uganda) triumphed in a French contest.