These two weeks of the winter holidays are the most annoying of the school year. If you’re not a skier who’s heading delightedly off to the mountains, then there’s pretty much nothing else to do! It’s February, it’s cold, it’s grey, not many tourist attractions are open (we’re not, that’s for sure) and all in all, it’s pretty depressing. The Point Info Jeunesse in Boussac has organised some kids’ sporty activities – sessions of handball, volleyball, cycling, basketball and gymnastics, among others, so there is one ray of sunshine. Rors will be going to gymnastics to try and master forward rolls.

When I was at school, we had gym at least once a week, although I think it was called music and movement back then. Everyone, but everyone, could climb ropes, do forward rolls and cartwheels, and go bright red standing on their head for too long. However, in Ireland and here in France, most schools don’t have a dedicated gym. Games lessons consist of running around outdoors, Irish dancing (horrors) or its French equivalent, and other fairly random activities. Caiti went to gym club for a year so at least she learned to do a forward roll. But my two boys haven’t. Rors needs to do them in judo but he’s very reluctant for me to teach him. And frankly, so am I! I can’t remember the last time I did one. Now, I’m a very active person, doing tons of walking and cycling and llama wrestling, but my days of earning BAGA awards are long done. I’m pretty sure I’ll do something nasty to myself if I demonstrate a roll. (I did a cartwheel last year for the kids and it took several days for my wrists to recover!) I only wish teachers did their jobs properly!

Ruadhri loves his BDs!

A week would be quite long enough for this holiday. I’d much rather have an extra week at Easter or a proper half-term during the summer term when at least the weather will be better. Unfortunately the forecast is wet and grey for the next ten days, so that limits what we can do even more. Not that the kids are complaining. After a forced route march each day, Rors is happy to play with his lego and read BDs (bandes dessinés – comic strip books), Caiti to cook and write Scratch programs on her laptop and Benj is up to his ears in revision.

So where did this holiday come from? In 1939 an arêté introduced four days of holidays around Mardi Gras (Shrove Tuesday). This has somehow evolved into a fortnight ski-ing break that is staggered across the country’s three school holiday zones to avoid clogging the slopes! I’m guessing a lot of government ministers ski.

For whatever reason, we’re stuck with the two-week break, so we’ll just have to get on with it. And anyway, Chris and I have our Big Outing coming up on Friday, our first time away without kids for twenty years, and our first escape from the farm since we moved here. OK, we’ll only be away for one night … but we’ll still be away. See my Sunday blog for details!