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Retford Grammar School

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Retford Grammar School
"Trip to France"

The webmaster wrote this article for his school magazine aged 14, and has just seen it again for the first time in 54 years. It was his first work to be published. Please excuse him publishing again in a world wide medium. See comments

    From the "Retfordian" Dec 1954, page 24, by John Palmer, aged 14.


    Having all collected safely on Retford platform, we left for London under the eagle eye of Mr Chislett, on the 4th of August. We had a pleasant trip down to King's Cross and from there to Waterloo and Southampton. As we reached the docks eager heads appeared at the carriage windows to catch a glimpse of the sea and the Queen Mary. After a tedious passage through the Customs we boarded the "Falaise" at 8.30 pm.

    The sea was quite rough, but this was overlooked in our thrill at meeting our first French people. They were very friendly and we soon settled down to sign language. Most of us could not sleep and we sighted the French coast at 7.00 am next morning. after having a good laugh when a passenger dropped his landing permit into the water, we reached French soil at 8.30 am.

    Once through the Customs, Mr Chislett used his natural initiative to procure a bus to Paramé, where we were to stay. After unpacking our cases and digesting our French food, we set off to scour Paramé. There was a long beach with many rocks and, to our joy, we discovered a Casino near the promenade. We made friends with the inhabitants and soon realised how quickly the francs went.

    On the 9th, we packed our lunch and set off in the bus for Mont St Michel. The mount is composed of a large mass of rock, jutting from the quicksands, and it becomes an island at high tide, except for the road joining it to the mainland. The shops on the mount thrives entirely on the tourist trade, and articles were a colossal price. We visited the two museums which gave a history of the island. On coming out, the guide expected a 100 franc tip from each party, as well as the entrance fee. Perched on the summit of the mount is the Abbey. It is a magnificent structure, and the view from the top was surprising.

    On the way home, after an exciting day, we had community singing on the back seat of the bus, from which we gained much enjoyment.That day we visited Dol Cathedral. To reach the top we had to climb 190 steps of a spiral staircase, and the view from the top did not help our dizziness.

    The sea at Paramé was very warm, and some of us went swimming every night. On the 11th, after a wonderful holiday, we sadly packed our bags and waited for the bus to St Malo. The staff of the hotel gave us a nice send off, and we were sad to leave Paramé.

    Some of our members successfully smuggled some mementos of France through the Customs, and we boarded the "Falaise" again at the harbour. As we left the docks at St Malo, we noticed with apprehension that the sea was exceptionally rough, and once out in the open sea we all retired, feeling green. A deck hand came round and placed bowls at strategic points on the floor.

    After a nasty night, we all woke early to see the Needles and the Isle of Wight. As we docked at Southampton, we saw the Queen Elizabeth, and, after another wait through customs we boarded the train for Waterloo.

    Retford was reached at dinnertime and, after thanking Mr Chislett, we all went home. What a holiday!


I wrote this article for the school mag at the tender age of 14, and have just seen it again after 54 years. For some reason I clearly remember penning the first word, the style is to be expected from a 14 year old, and I remember the editor removing a remark I made about Mr Chislett's friendliness with the Hotel landlady, with the comment "You can't say things like that about people in print!". Other things that stick in my memory are the terror of getting lost in the back streets of Paramé at night, and the joy of discovering I loved the taste of artichokes and nobody else in the party did, so I ate the lot. Ah, the thrill and despair of youth!

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