This is the ninth in a series of posts describing my recent trip to England, Ireland, the Netherlands and Wales, from writing course to school reunion and more.

More English coutryside. This time I was in Dorset, being driven along more narrow, twisty roads.

I had another first on this part of the trip. I played darts. I was pretty bad at it, and surprised the others tolerated me, as I was before that when we played tennis. I hadn’t played tennis for at least thirty years, probably more.

Still, I was able to show the family members I stayed with that I’m able to to do something. I won at Boggle.

And of course I went walking and altogether had a lovely time.

Walking in Dorset

Walking in Dorset

The question I had there, and still wonder about, is about exchanges between teenagers who speak different languages, and whether they ever work out well. I never had that opportunity and neither did my children. Twice we had a few members of visiting east European choirs to stay in our house, and they tended to talk amongst themselves in their language, leaving out my daughter who was hosting them.

On one of the days in Dorset, when we out with another family, there were three English-speaking teenage friends and a French girl. Everyone remarked how quiet the French girl was, but it was clear she didn’t understand the conversations, so obviously she couldn’t join in. One of the teenagers had been to France on an exchange trip, staying with a family he didn’t get on with at all.

So I wonder whether these exchanges ever do work out well, or whether the language is always too much of a barrier at that age.

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