Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Escape from Chateau Colditz

Arques war memorial

Yes, I've actually been out and about in parts of France that are not the chateau grounds. Saturday was a big night on the town and at the 'afterclub' (said in a sexy French accent of course), getting up for work on Saturday was thus difficult...

Yesterday I went along on a tour with Ben and 40 schoolchildren plus about 5 teachers I think. In the morning, we headed to Arques market, un vrai French market just like you see on TV, except as well as meat and cheese and such French things, they also sold clothes and tacky crap. I bought a pair of cloth slip-on flats, with black-and-white stripes (perfect for summer and quite French, I thought) for €6, half a kilo of cherries, a chocolate-filled donutty thing and Ben and I went halves on some French cheese. So, basically, we got paid to do a bit of shopping while the kids and their teachers went round practising their French and buying provisions for the picnic lunch we subsequently had in the bandstand of a nearby park. Then for the next hour or so we traipsed back and forth between the park and the post office with small groups of children before the teachers decided we would head back to the chateau for an hour's R&R (it being only about 15 mins to Arques).

In the afternoon it was back to Arques to visit the Arc International glass factory - home of such brands as Arcoroc and Luminarc - Arc, Arques, you see. Plus Pyrex, which doesn't have 'arc' in the name, but there you go. The primary purpose of the factory visits should be scaring kids into staying in school, because it was like being in hell, I kid you not. Flames were blasting out all over the place on to glass, it was hideously hot and really noisy even with earplugs. On the plus side, there was a robot arm which suctioned on to rows of glasses coming off a conveyor belt and lifted them on to a pallet, which I found oddly hypnotising - I simply could not move until I'd seen the robot fill the whole pallet. I also learned things about glassmaking such as: one technique for making glasses is to put them in a mould, press a hole in the middle and then use vacuum pressure to fit the glass exactly in to the bottom of the mould. And bowls can be made by sticking the glass in the mould and then spinning it, using centrifugal force to make the glass rise up the sides of the mould. Fascinating stuff! Oh, and screenprinting of glasses is done by forcing paint through a metal mesh on to the glass then squeegying it off. See, now I've probably saved you from ever having to visit a glass factory yourself. Oh and the teachers took about 40 mins in the factory shop while the rest of us sat on the coach (watching a DVD, at least) which made me late back for dinner, biatches.

Tomorrow I have another day off and on Friday my very first school group arrives, nervous! On Sat I think I have to take them to a goat farm and a water park, what a fun-filled day!


  1. Sounds like you get paid to have fun to me.....
    (Cant' be bad!!!)

  2. Homie would say... Sacrelicious. oi.


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