Time had passed as it does. My daughter was only just 5 when I took her and her two brothers on the last big Overseas Experience. The boys talk about it of course, but it's not the same when you are too little remember anything except a bath at someone's house and middle brother telling you to 'get out quick or you'll go all wrinkly and turn into an old lady!'
I had promised her we would go again. She was now 14, and next year was a big school year, so it was now or never! We had been saving for a while, and, with care, careful budgeting, and accommodation with friends and relations, we knew we could do it. We started with a rough plan - 'must-sees',and 'would-be-nice-to-sees'. Main destination: Europe and the UK, maybe USA for the Grand Canyon. Disneyland not a priority this time. Emphasis on history, art and walking. And as long as possible; when you are traveling to the other side of the world, no point doing it half-heartedly!
An exciting and busy time: We joined the Youth Hostel Association. Sussed out the cost of hiring cars. What time of year should we go? How long should we stay away? Emailed friends-and-relations to see if they would be home. Asked Ellyn when she could house- and pet-sit. Decided regretfully we would have to abandon the USA leg - too expensive, but replaced the Grand Canyon with a plan to see the little-known Les Gorges du Verdon in France, touted as "The Grand Canyon of France". No-one seemed to have heard of it. It would be an adventure just getting there. Hire a car in France? The Big Trip started taking shape. N. still didn't really believe it would actually happen. What would her teachers say?
After a couple of busy months during which I seemed to be on the computer almost continually, I wrote a letter to her school principal. He had sounded a little officious when I initially approached him, suggesting that she may not get permission. That was patently ridiculous from my point of view. It was obviously one of the most brilliant learning opportunities a kid of fourteen could be offered, and no bureaucracy was going to stand in my way!
Next: The letter to the principal.