A little over a week ago we were approached by EFI to ask if we would be able to host a girl who had already completed the hosting leg of her exchange but was struggling with her stay abroad. Since EFI was something we had discussed for L (K very definitely not keen; L considering it) but knew we could not afford at the moment, thanks to Bob’s job (or lack of job) situation, it seemed a good opportunity to gently stick a toe back in the water. Most of all, though, we felt sad that any child was unhappy, and worried for her parents – it is hard enough to deal with a child being away for so long when you are confident they are being cared for, but to know they are unhappy would be incredibly hard 🙁
Things moved fairly quickly after that, and exactly a week after we had agreed that we felt able to take her 6 arrived, brought to us by her mum G. The girls and I went to the station to meet them and had one of those lovely moments of recognition as they arrived: big smiles exchanged and waves of friendliness before we even knew for sure that it was them. In fact, we caught a glimpse of a mother and daughter and found ourselves hoping it was them 🙂
G and I chatted pretty much all the way home; the girls were a little more reticent, hampered by language and by shyness, although they had all been very excited about meeting. It was late when we had eaten and by the time bedtime happened they had their second wind and were all rather hyper, so settling down took a while – all very good-natured though.
The following morning Bob took J to catch his train and G caught the same one, leaving the rest of us to have a lie-in and recover from the late night. Eventually we had a gentle start to the day, with breakfast and then some fun inventing, making and then playing tiddlywinks-based maths games, with breaks for trampolining when brains started to get overloaded. Then we got out a science kit and worked with magnets for a bit, adding in Geomags and some general play after a while. After lunch we went to the park, where A took 6 round and round as part of some long, involved game I didn’t quite follow 🙂 She is quite smitten!
It was hot and sunny, so the lure of ice lollies persuaded them back home, where a film was chosen (Finding Nemo) and then it was time to take L to gym. 6 and A came too, and we played games and read stories when we weren’t watching the gymnastics.
A more sensible bedtime set us all up for a trip to Duxford the next day, leaving too late for J to get his train but with plenty of time to drive him to school and get back to wait in the car park for others to arrive. Maths in the car was finished just in time to join our group, then we stood in the cold wind until the last stragglers (working on Home Educator time 😉 ) arrived and we could go in.
Concorde was our first stop, where we were lucky enough to find a guide who told us all about the plane we were in (it never actually took passengers but was one of the test planes and full of equipment, some of which was removed in order to put seats in to show what the passenger-carrying version looked like) and also that there were Lotus F1 cars test driving on the track that day 🙂
We spent an hour or so in the hands-on section of the Airspace, waiting for M and C, who then texted to say they were running late, so we went outside for some fresh air and a snack, with the bonus of watching the F1 cars (away in the distance – an accident last year has meant increased precautions this year) and a Spitfire which took off and then proceeded to give a mini aeronautical display. The play area has been improved since we were last there and proved to be lots of fun – A would happily have spent most of her time there, I think!
Once M, M and C had arrived we had fun playing follow-my-leader, each thinking the other was somewhere else, until we finally caught up with them right at the far end, having visited the rather cool Historic Duxford hut on the way. We ate lunch (in the sun outside at first, then in the foyer as a heavy shower drove us inside) while M scoped out the displays to see if they were suitable for young and impressionable eyes. It seemed they were, so we went in and found out about life in Normandy during the war, then peeped into Monty’s various caravans – including the luxury of a bath! We all tried on hats and felt the weight of backpacks, and decided we weren’t tough enough to be soldiers, then moved on to the big hanger with its impressive display of American aircraft. Here M flexed her Friend of Duxford muscles and managed to negotiate use of a private room, complete with water cooler, for a Latin lesson – but I had managed to bring the wrong pile of books so we were short of things to look at and in any case the water cooler seemed to exert an irresistible draw, so we did what we could (half a chapter so not too shabby really) and then gave German a try, with rather less success, since the game M was playing with A was so overwhelmingly exciting 😉 Ah well, we tried!
By now it was time to head off for choir, especially as we were still at the wrong end of a large site and wanted ideally to arrive with enough time to ask about 6 joining in. Fortunately the traffic was not too bad, Sam was amenable and 6 was soon standing with L in the choir stalls. Both girls were picked out for music theory, where the (Canadian) teacher thought she would be kind and do 6’s lesson in French (she knows better now though 😉 ) and it seemed to go well. Bob collected them (and J) and took them home for baths and early nights while K and I stayed on for boys’ choir.
Today started early for J and me – off to school. I woke the girls up before we left and was rewarded with bleary eyed hugs from L and A and a bright beaming smile from 6; evidence so far suggests she’s better at mornings than we are 😉 Apparently music school was fun (singing, then theory/games, then orchestra – so 6 and A watched a film on Bob’s laptop) and was followed by lunch and more trampolining, plus the rest of the film. Lots of stories and chatting made for a pleasant evening – and now it’s all quiet and time for me to go to bed too!