There’s a reason they’re both called Bretagne

It has been a long day. I was very much hoping that the internet connection would be working but although the family laptop has connected, mine is still flat-out refusing to associate with the WiFi box. So no emails to my mother for me.

We’re at the holiday house in Brittany and have been here since Sunday night. It’s a lovely little house – several large rooms downstairs including a playroom and my bedroom, and then upstairs three bedrooms in the eaves of the house where everyone else sleeps. The only slight downside is that it’s almost entirely unsoundproofed from downstairs to up, so every word is audible. So at 7.30am when Baby Girl decides it’s time to get up, everyone wakes up and by 8.30 the day is in full swing. As a result it’s only 9.05pm and I’m ready to drop.

Today Daughter One and her mother went off to the nearby stables for a riding lesson, and I stayed with the younger three girls. We played games in the playroom and took photos with my camera and generally had fun, and then at about half past ten we meandered upstairs and got everyone except me dressed. It was quite serendipitous that we did so then, and that Daughters Two and Three insisted on putting on their jodphurs, because at 11.05 Daughter One arrived back and shouted up to us that 2 & 3 had a riding lesson at 11.30 – it takes twenty minutes to get to the stables by car – so they needed to come RIGHT NOW. Which they did. Baby Girl went for a nap and I had a wonderfully solitary nap. Then we all went out for lunch, got caught in a sudden hailstorm on the beach, pottered round various shops and bought some shoes for almost everyone, came home and had a light afternoon tea, pottered a bit more and then it was the usual evening of baths, supper and bed. Not really any more tiring than a usual day, so perhaps it’s the sea air or maybe the cold I’m currently battling off.

Tomorrow I’m going riding! It’s a bit of a terrifying prospect because I haven’t ridden for at least two years and even then only sporadically and never well. But in such a horse-mad family it seems a pity to miss the opportunity of earning my stripes… or bruises.

It’s lovely here. I don’t know if I’ve ever been to Brittany before; I don’t think so. It looks almost uncannily like the Yorkshire Dales or perhaps the Lake District, so much so that I have to conciously remind myself that we’re still in France. Daughter Two is also a bit confused and keeps insisting we’re in England (that may be due to the six-hour drive we took to get here, which is longer than it takes to get to London). Although I would agree that it’s full-on, in that I’m basically working twelve hour days, it is full-on with fun and excitement, in a beautiful setting, so it doesn’t really feel like work! It’s been a nice opportunity to get a bit further with figuring out my niche in the family and learning exactly where to draw the line between friend and au pair. It’s particularly hard with Daughters One and Two since we’re getting along really well and ironically that makes it tricky sometimes to feel comfortable asserting my authority over them. I don’t think it’s something I usually do to my friends (hopefully not! But after six months of this I might quite easily catch myself telling my friends to pick up their dirty socks and reminding them to say please and thank you). Crucial note to self: despite her height, which is almost equal to mine, Daughter One is only eleven years old. Daughter Two is not yet six. There are times when I do actually know best, and I need to trust myself then.

In un-child-care-related news, if such a thing even exists any more, I have bought my Kindle! Did I already tell you guys that? It will be waiting for me next week when I arrive at my mum’s house, ready to be filled with the 4,000+ free Classics which Amazon generously provides, along with any other free books I can find. That should keep me busy for a few months at least! And give me something to do on the numerous trains I’ll be taking during the week, which I think have reached double figures.

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