Thursday, September 20, 2012

Braying Again

The Little White Donkey has been silent for a while.  Summer can be difficult here -- hot and humid, it is the season of short tempers for me.  I have been engaging in the mid-life wondering of where my life is heading -- including wondering 'do people REALLY want to read about my family (mis)adventures-- dealing with some physical issues (mysteriously torn shoulder tendons), and coming to grips with having only the boys at home.

Earlier this month, Sophia and I flew to Stanstead with RyanAir and spent three days in London preparing to launch her on her boarding school career.  Blessings on Michael and Tony, Sophia's UK guardians, who lent us their lovely flat above their gastro-pub while they were abroad.  Blessings to on my big brother and sister who came from Ireland to support me in shopping, eating, and bidding Sophia  farewell.  We did, literally, 'shop 'til we dropped' -- buying duvet and pillows, clothes (she needs a 'business suit' as, although there is no uniform for the Sixth Form, her school requires that she be 'interview smart' six days a week) for the English climate, toiletries and all manner of sundries.  John Lewis and the charity shops of Marylebone High Street saw a good deal of our custom.

By bus and train we lugged her two massive suitcases to Hook station, and from there took a taxi to her new school, Lord Wandsworth College.  Blessings on the weather, the sun shone and the sky stayed blue.  Matron made us tea which we had outside Sophia's House (for Madeira friends who are reading this, UK boarding schools don't have 'dorms' as we knew them, they have a more self-contained House system).  Then inside to unpack, and make the small
single room a little home-like.  I hung around for as long as I could, but there was no putting off the moment.  We walked back to the admin building, got staff to call me a taxi, and I left Sophia standing among all that green grass to do what she needs to do.

It was not a happy train journey back to London, but Ruth met me in the restaurant and we had a great meal -- better than Sophia who dined on frozen pizza amid a crowd of unknown faces.  The next day I flew home...

Sophia is working things out.  We have a Skype connection and speak most days.  She understands the International students sometimes better than the English ones, and thrives on the challenge of her studies: English Lit, History, Classics, Physics, and Critical Thinking as A level subjects, Russian as a language.  Her high marks and motivation have also landed her in a group that will be specially tutored for the Oxbridge entrance exams.  She wanted to do horse riding, and has managed to avoid the infamous 'Games' (such a staple of English boarding schools) but is swimming; and her Personal Endeavor is as a visitor in a local old people's home.  She has already asked if she can take part in the school trip to Washington DC next Easter...

She'll do just fine.

So I return to my mid-life crises -- running the house and the garden, playing chauffeur to the Littles (Alex has his driving license now, so is pretty independent), trying to keep up with photography.  I have been thinking about taking a Teaching English as a Second Language qualification, and also working at a dog shelter... so there should be some updates in the coming weeks.

Bray On, Little Donkey, Bray On!


  1. Lovely to catch up with your news. We all have doubts about whether anyone is really interested in our little lives but, in truth, people are!
    My son has just started in the Sixth form of his school and also has to wear a smart suit instead of a uniform. He is studying History, Latin, Geography and Government/Politics. If he works hard he could be Oxbridge material too but he definitely needs to pull his finger out if that is going to happen. You never know, they could end up in the same place.
    Hope your daughter settles in well.
    Look forward to reading more posts. Can't have you slacking!!

    1. Hi Trish, I have been enjoying your Swedish adventures: I'd really like to go -- a trip there next summer is warring with a long-held ambition to bike the Danube: either just Vienna to Budapest or further afield with the Little Ones and maybe Sophia. They have Austrian cousins, so it would be a good way for us to visit them as well as a wonderful trip through some lovely countryside and great European cities.

  2. Excellent , Rachael. Go for ESL.

  3. There is a Chinese - American family we are friends with in North Carolina. They just put their daughter in boarding school. In Beijing. My wife gave her an intensive Chinese language briefing this summer, and she is a very smart girl, but that is - in reality - on the other side of the world. Maybe I should put her in touch with Sophia.

    Congratulations to Sophia. The world will be her playground.

    1. I'm sure Sophia's be interested, Bob. There are a few Chinese girls at LWC. Most of the Internationals are Russian or Eastern European, and one is Nigerian. It's nice for us that Sophia is relatively close -- a 4 hour flight that costs anything between 30 and 200 euros one way. It means that she can come home during her two week half-term at the end of October, and of course for Christmas and Easter. Christo is going this weekend to see her; it's her first weekend free (they have classes 6 days a week usually, but once a month, when there are no other holidays, they get an 'exeat' and that includes a free Saturday.) He usually goes to the UK for 2-3 days at this time of the year, and he will be able to see the school for the first time, and take her for some good tucker :)

  4. Keep up the blog - I love the updates