Yesterday Belle got back from school camp.
I say ‘camp’, they were actually sleeping in dorms, so a bit of a cop-out, but still, the result for me was the same – two and a half days of not having to say ‘have you cleaned your teeth yet?’ a gazillion times between eight and eight thirty every evening, and not having to make packed lunches. (God I hate packed lunches. The endless futility of it. Yet another round of sandwiches in the bin…)
They returned home at 2pm, and we had to be at school to meet them. Why exactly the school decided to make the school day even more inconvenient for us working mums is beyond me. True, the letter home did say they could wait in the classroom until normal pick up time if it was a problem, but no-one wants to be that mum do they? I could hardly leave Belle sat alone, encrusted with mud, while all the other kids were greeted by adoring parents could I?
She seemed a little subdued when she first got off the coach, but was soon back to her normal chatty self.
“A girl I was sharing my room with folded her pants!” she told me. Important news first obviously. “Who folds their pants?”
“Well not you,” I agreed, “but then you don’t really fold any of your clothes do you?”
“Do you want to hear the exact details of everything we did?” she asked, as we began our walk down to Costa* to meet Bee for welcome home cakes.
“Well, we got there on the first day, and had lunch. They had sandwiches with ham, cheese, or egg mayonnaise…”
I confess to tuning out for a little while here, as we walked past somewhere with a fire in the garden, and my mind took me to Glastonbury festival, with the smell of wood smoke on the warm breeze…
“…and then we went back to our rooms to get changed for lunch,” I guessed we were on the second day now, “and we had sandwiches again, only this time there was tuna, or ham, or cheese or egg mayonnaise…”
We walked past a hairdresser and I spent a while considering a perm.
“…and then we were back!” She smiled. I looked closely at her mouth.
“Did you clean your teeth at all while you were away?”
She shuffled awkwardly and looked at the ground. “I was tired!” she protested.
Welcome home Belle.
*Everyone on the Gloucester Road hates that Costa have opened, apparently threatening the livelihoods of every single independent shop owner within a 27 mile radius, so we go in it just to enrage the locals. Plus we had a voucher for a free coffee.