Normandie, France

Year 7 spent a magical 5 days in Normandy last week at La Ferme Européene des Enfants. Monday started bright and early, but somewhat bleary-eyed, at school ready for our journey to Newhaven and the Ferry across the channel. It took many hours but by mid-afternoon we eventually arrived at what was to be our home for the week, a fully functioning children’s farm. We were welcomed off the coach into glorious sunshine by Veronique, Leslie and the team and the two farm dogs ‘Appy (or Happy for anyone who speaks English without a French accent) and Cadeau who didn’t wait long to come and introduce themselves either.

After a quick introduction we found the ponies and went straight on a walk round the farm and through the forest to the river where there was a natural spring that we could drink from. You couldn’t stand in the water for too long however as it was so cold it was almost painful! Fortunately we were rewarded for our efforts with chocolate bread, which was to become our favourite snack over the course of the week.

Over the course of the next two days we partook in a number of workshops ranging from milking Doudoune the cow and turning her milk into butter and caramel; feeding the sheep straight out of our hands and cutting wool off of their backs to then wash and make into little woollen toys, animals or pompoms; carpentry, where we were let loose to make any toy or model that we desired so long as we used wood that came from the forest; baking, where we learnt about the wheat milling process and even had a go at grinding our own flour which we then used, alongside the fresh chicken eggs we collected, to make our own cakes. We also spent time at the river measuring the biodiversity and learning about all the different animals who live in and around the water. However, our favourite activity by far was looking after the animals, which we did both in workshops and in our free time. We bottle-fed Timmy the lamb, milked the goats, nursed the chicks and went gooey over the baby bunnies and adorable 6-week old kitten. When we weren’t busy making up names for all the animals we spent our time climbing trees, playing hide & seek and swinging on the two amazing rope swings the farm had set up.

On Thursday we all made packed lunches and ventured out of the farm for the day. First stop was the water mill which was still exactly as it was left when the miller retired 40 years ago and then a trip to the village shop ensued where we all delighted in purchasing a full range of French snacks and goodies to take home! We then began our ascent to the top of the hill which would be our picnic stop, pausing on the way to visit the War Cemetery of Grandcourt and pay our respects to the fallen soldiers who now rest there. It was a very sobering moment to realise that some of the soldiers were not that much older than us. After that it was onwards and upwards as they say and we certainly did go upwards. The journey to our picnic site seemed to last a lifetime but what a view when we got there! The Normand countryside has never looked so beautiful and a ham baguette never so tasty. After a couple of hours of painting, playing cards and building dens in the forest we began the very hot journey back to the farm where we were treated to Chocolate Bread, juice and a long awaited cold shower on arrival!

Our trip to France concluded that evening with a huge bonfire, toasted marshmallows and campfire songs. Overall it was a wonderful week in a magical place and we really wish we could have brought some of the animal’s home with us!