Of Vikings, Knights and Henry VIII

We’ve been home from France for a few days now and we’re already looking at our next trip which I think will be in August. 

The children love France and by the end of the week all three were finding confidence to attempt speaking French beyond asking for a pain au chocolat. I think visiting for a few days every couple of months should help, especially combined with the Dino Lingo programme we are subscribed to. (I should point out that the reason I think we can do this is not because we have lots of money but because by taking Harriet the camper van we can stay on a site for around £10 a night, and the ferry is only £42.)

But I still have a tale to tell about last week’s trip. On our last full day we had lovely weather again. We spent the morning playing boules and table tennis and then after lunch we went to the museum in the village.

It seems a tiny place from the outside but once you get in, there’s so much to see. The first section was about The French court and Knights. It covered modes of dress, food and drink. The children loved being able to dress up as members of the French court. I tried my hand at making chainmail and we tried to guess the ingredients that go into Hippocras, a drink made from wine and honey, among with cinnamon, cardamom, ginger and … something else! It is very nice though; we brought a bottle home with us! We also tried out some of the games that works have been played then. The children spent quite a lot of time in the game section.

The next section was all about the Vikings. We’ve learned quite a lot about the Vikings recently but it’s all been from the British point of view. This time we climbed on board a Viking longship to hear about their arrival in France and how they chose the Guines to settle down. It’s easy to see why; there are lots of waterways in the area and the land is good. The whole area is now farmland, and the Vikings set up farms in the area. The longship was an experience in itself – it rocked and swayed as we say in it, and being made of wood, it creaked eerily as we waited to see what would happen next. What happened next is we came in to shore, with all the bumping and noise entailed in that. 


After the longship, when the room had stopped swaying, we went to the third section of the museum, which was all about Henry VIII! We’d seen silhouettes of him on the roundabout near where we were staying and wondered what he was doing there. It turns out Henri is well loved in the Guines area, having visited several times. Each year there is a celebration of Henry and his connection to the area. Stonelaughter and I enjoyed reading the history, whilst Bean and PK were happy to dress up as Henry himself, and Plum dressed up as yet another Princess at court.


And that was our last full day. The next morning, after breakfast, we packed up and left. But before we bid farewell to Guines, we popped into the local market, Friday being market day. It was lovely to see that so many people came out to stock up on fruit, veg, meat and fish from the market; by 10am many people were heading home with bags laden, stopping for lots of chats along the way. We had a look around, and I managed to find three headscarves I loved for only €5 each. On to Calais for lunch and then we were off to the ferry. With a bit of a luck and a following wind, we’ll be back off to France in August for a few days.

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  1. I think it’s great that they are getting more confident in their French the more they are there, and it sounds like you could have many more French trips coming up ahead! Also, it’s brilliant to see them enjoying learning about history so much, and getting involved like that. Just the way learning should be.

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