By Sarah Hague
I first wrote (most of) this post on my blog St Bloggie de Riviere (from Sept 12, 2010) to explain how the writing up of the diaries came to be.
Mother isn’t actually the one doing the writing up because regular readers of this blog [St Bloggie] will remember that her house is something of an internet-free zone. No, it’s a project for my eldest, to get him to practice typing. They don’t teach children to type in French schools, despite it being one of the most useful skills to have in the modern age. I think they expect kids to acquire typing as a skill by osmosis.
Anyway, my mother sent me, at my request, some of her travel diaries written during family holidays dating back to the 1960s. My eldest is supposed to be writing them up into the blog and at the same time practising using all his fingers to type.
Naturally, he was wildly unenthusiastic about this task initially until I told him it would please his grandmother greatly, be very good for him, and he would earn €10 a month out of it. It was the final argument that won him over in the end…
So I’ve set it up and he has to write a day of diary per week to start with. The entries are quite long, and his typing is very slow, so one has to be reasonable. As it picks up, I hope he can up the rhythm.
The first one starts with a camping trip to Holland in 1968. I think my parents were boycotting France at that time because of an ungrateful de Gaulle being in charge. They didn’t have the trailer tent at that time, but an ordinary blue one that took some strength and determination to put up and take down.
I remember my mother telling me that they bought it because they went to a camping fair and decided it would be the only way they could afford to travel abroad on holiday with us kids. My mother was the real instigator of all this, I think my dad would have been happy with annual trips to Blackpool to stay with his parents, or at most, a week in a b&b in Devon.
Once the idea was planted in his head though, he became all enthusiastic and bossy and took over. Taking over however, did not equate with organisation, so the diaries are full of his forgetfulness and my mother having to adapt to unforeseen situations.
I hope my eldest does a good job because these diaries are very entertaining. I’ve certainly enjoyed reading through my escapades in Holland, and my younger brother’s penchant for wine (aged 1)!
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Needless to say, he didn’t keep at it long. His excuse? He had to ‘work for his brevet’. Not even bribery was sufficient which, I suppose, speaks in his favour – he is not money-grabbing, but then he’ll probably never be rich either (back to the pensions drawing board…).
Anyway, of course it fell to me to continue, so that is what I’ve been doing. What’s that phrase about if you want something done ask a busy woman…?