As thousands of Olivia’s contemporaries settle into damp, cold boarding houses all over the UK, she has moved into what is locally known as the ‘Dubai Palace’ for her first term as a boarder at Repton School Dubai.
The accommodation is a vast villa, with pool. As I left her frolicking in said pool with two new friends I thought briefly about poor little Jane Eyre, incarcerated at the clergy daughters’ school, Morton, on a windy Yorkshire moor. I suppose things are different nowadays, well they certainly are in Dubai…
Olivia settled in so well, I could hardly have hoped for a better start. The other girls seem really lovely and it struck me what a natural environment it seemed to be for a young girl (even with the gold flake) to be surrounded by other girls, most of them older. They all seemed to fit together straight away, it was quite remarkable, almost as if they had never lived apart.
The best thing about boarding is that you have a matron. I LOVE the idea of ‘matron’. Olivia’s is just as I had imagined; homely, strict, clean and capable. Matron is the person who sorts everything out from cuts and bruises to what you eat for breakfast. Like a mother, but a paid one, so possibly more motivated, even when she would rather be doing something else.
Olivia called last night and I imaged her in her little room with all her things on her chest of drawers; it was interesting to see what she took with her. Little bits of home in her new world. She sounded so chirpy last night and could hardly wait to get off the phone and back to her new friends, I hope it stays that way.
I made some new friends too, three, in one day, which is actually something of a record. One of them even lives in Abu Dhabi and Olivia has adopted her daughter (aged 13) as her ‘young mummy’.
The little two also had a perfect start; the loved everything about it. Here they are yesterday morning before Rupert took them to school.
I am so happy to have them all in the English system, although slightly worried their French may suffer. Bea tells me her French teacher has an Irish accent. Leo says all his work was “easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy” – a great English phrase that I am delighted he learned on day one.
Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2010