As any parent with a child at public school knows, the school fees are just the beginning. These days, where once we might have visited the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, our children go to expensive foreign parts. Harry had already spent 10 days in Norway with his school this summer before half-term saw a rugby tour to Belgium. I didn?t know the Belgians played rugby either perhaps they don?t, as despite losing all their matches so far this term, Harry?s team thrashed the locals. Mrs Hedges was spending half-term making her Tunworth cheese for the run-up to Christmas, so I took the younger children for a whirlwind three days in Paris.

It was speed tourism: the Louvre in an hour, the Musée D?Orsay in less, plus all the traditional highlights. The children were inspired. The old city was as beautiful as ever and the lack of skyscrapers in the centre mocked how we have ruined much of London. I don?t know whether the Parisians employ a shoot-to-kill policy or some other means to prevent graffiti, but, unlike our cities, Paris was almost blissfully bare of it. Thank goodness the waiters were as surly as ever, or we wouldn?t have had anything to complain about.