La Fille took to skiing like a roasted duck to orange sauce. We stuck her on skis for a little shuffle around before enrolling her at the French ski school in case she hated it and threw a wobbly but we need not have worried. She loved it.
I am always amazed at the apparent ease with which French parents leave their children with complete strangers without a second thought, but we did it anyway. There was no checking the school out, making sure we liked the place and staff, or that La Fille liked them. We arrived with her and her kit, paid up and left her in the care of a group of men and women with crevassed faces wearing red ski suits. My stomach did a couple of turns and half hitches walking back to the hotel. "What if she hates it?" I asked the Frenchman with genuine anguish. "What if she hates them?" I said, nodding to the red-suits. As the other parents clomped off in a hurry to the mountain lifts, I dragged my plastic-booted heels in the hope of spying on La Fille to make sure she was OK. Then we spotted her; white helmet (the only one that fit), pink goggles (her choice), yellow boots (you do not get a choice when you hire) and slightly too small sky blue padded jacket (borrowed). My heart almost stopped as I watched her shuffle to the top of the baby piste and set off in the instructed position - hands on knees, bottom out, head up - all by herself. When did my little baby learn to ski and be so independent, I thought all choked up.
I stuck my mobile phone in jacket pocket where I was sure to feel it vibrate. I had told the woman who enrolled La Fille that she had never been on skis before and asked her to ring me if there was the slightest problem or the very merest indication she was not happy. She entered the mobile number in the computer but looked at me as if to say: "Don't be ridiculous; you will be up a mountain."
The move to France was only supposed to be for a couple of years, not forever. Then I met The Frenchman. Then I had La Fille. Now there's no way back. But La Fille, to whom a horse is a cheval and a frog is just pond life is still half English. So before the Gallic nation claims her for its own, sprinkles her with garlic, sautés her and swallows her up whole we make regular escapes on the Eurostar. And we have discovered the grass is various shades of green either side of the Channel.