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Thank god for school trips

Conversation chez Parkin while four days' spending money is being put into envelopes for son's school trip to the Derbyshire peak district.

Year 4 daughter (worried): "Can parents come with you if you want?"

Y6 son (contemptuous): "'Course not, durr!"

Y8 daughter (condescending): "That's the whole point, to get away from your parents."

And of course it is - an important point, at least. They will learn that if they shove wet socks in their bag at the end of the day, they will still be wet in the morning, as will the dry pants that were next to them.

They will learn that objects will stay exactly where they drop them; that pound;3 spending money is not always topped up to pound;3.99 in the queue for the till; that if they stay up talking until the small hours with their room-mate, they will feel awful in the morning; and that if lots of people share one television, there has to be some compromise.

So I shall suppress my maternal worries about middle child falling down Mam Tor, getting lost in Speedwell Cavern or catching some timewarp bubonic bug in the historic plague village of Eyam.

I shall be calm throughout, knowing that in one short week he will be learning some large and valuable lessons about life. What you teachers get out of it I do not know, but thank you very much.

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