One day in the first term of 2006, the start of Year 11, our French class was lucky enough to have Mr Curnow grace us with his presence. Well actually we were in his classroom, since Mr Simperingham never really got his own one, and Simon just happened to be sitting at his desk. Anyway, during the class he presented us with an opportunity to go on a French immersion camp at Akaroa in the first term holidays. I quite liked the sound of this and I thought my parents would be happy to pay for it since it wasn't too costly. It was being run by very official sounding people so I thought it would probably be quite difficult, especially with the whole 'immersion' concept. I couldn't have been more wrong.
The reality was quite different- a bit like that Shakespeare appearance vs reality stuff drilled into us. There were several tell-tale signs which I should have noticed; first, they were quite keen to get as many people as possible to go, not necessarily the best students; second, Simon quite heavily stressed the fact that there would be girls there, from a couple of Canterbury schools. I think I thought he was joking, but this turned out to be a big selling point. Related to this was that consequently a large number of students in my class decided to go, several of whom were not particularly strong at French (no disrepect). Finally, our three main French teachers were all going, and I don't think they really were going for the teaching!!
|Not the best movie to watch|
before a plane trip!
We had some downtime at the airport and people wandered off to entertain themselves; not everyone went on the same flight, so eventually we met up with the others who had arrived earlier and had gone to the International Antarctic Centre. Eventually we all piled into a bus and took a rather leisurely drive through Christchurch, stopping once to look around the square. On the bus some of the guys were watching Saw on a laptop in front of me, so I watched too. They were using headphones however and I discovered it is rather difficult to follow the train of a movie without any sound, even gruesome horror films! Sure you can tell pretty clearly what's happening, but usually the plots are so contrived you can't really make it up yourself!
Moving on, we drove out to Akaroa, a very scenic drive, and the weather was wonderful. If you have not been to Akaroa, you must know it is a very beautiful place; most of it is set upon the waterfront, with very steep hills behind, making it very picturesque. The settlement was originally French and retains many Gallic elements, hence the point of the camp being here. Our site was situated high up in the hills and though the bus drove us close to it, there was still a bit of a hike.
|The 'Alpine Lodge'|
|The Kitchen in the main Lodge|
|Yes, the Streets had|
|He's not god!|
|If you haven't seen Tais-Toi!|
you must as soon as possible!
Mr Simperingham, who is a pretty fit and agile guy, decided he would go on early morning runs, to take in the scenery and benefit from the steep slopes. A couple of the guys- whether to impress anyone or just for fitness reasons- decided they would join him. I quite enjoyed seeing them when they came back, because they obviously weren't quite up to our teacher's standards. On our third day, we had to develop some sort of group activity to present to everyone that evening. From a number of choices, my group chose to write and perform a play about the settling of Akaroa.
|But it was a budget one|
which only went up to 999
|The handwriting at the start |
belongs to two girls but after a
third of the page the rest is mine
|Not quite this formal!|
That night, people had planned a big 'party' up at the girls' chalet. I was rather wary of this, and though I did go to have a look around, I think I made a point of going to bed early.. but that's typical of what I was like then (and probably now too!). I'm not too sure what people got up to that evening though rumours flew about the next morning; Simon had apparently caught Sam playing 'secret squirrel,' as he called it, outside his room late at night, a description I find hilarious. There were more rumours, but I guess what happens on camp stays on camp!
We packed and went to the French fair down by the bay; this was quite large and extravagant, with games, performers, crepes, petanque, lollies and much more. I also went to an antiques shop across the road. Following that, we walked across the bay to a little café and had brunch. A couple of the girls who were still trying to 'convince' me that I should be more sociable wrote their phone numbers on the receipt and gave it to me. I was more amused than anything at the time, doubly so when I found it in a box of mine some 4 years later.
In the end, I took away many memories from the trip. The whole unexpected social nature had thrown me completely and as usual, I had been a complete idiot about it and was upset about that. But it was pretty fun and not bad for my French. I also took away several nice pens and lots of Akaroa bumper stickers, most of which I lost when I cleverly decided to stick them to the side of my canvas luggage bag. These sticker has AKAROA on it and then they had different things underneath such as 'for adventure' or 'for fine wine;' we got several of the latter to give to Mr Curnow, whom they suited very nicely! I also managed to steal the key for the room, though not intentionally, and somehow I didn't find it again for several years by which stage I figured it would be too late to return it!
So there you have it, that's how I ended up in the middle of 3 day spading marathon.