If anyone had told me I would be writing about Pokemon on the blog a while ago, I would have laughed, but it has taken France by storm. Yes it may all be rather silly, but there is so much tragedy in the world and so much horror that I thought something light-hearted from the school summer holidays, (rather like the hanging umbrellas in Rochefort) far removed from everyday normality, might be fun and if that means getting involved with the children and helping them find some rare Pokemon then so be it!
Roddy’s attitude towards this latest internet craze may well reflect many people’s thinking. Grumpy at first, going on about how the technological age is ruining our children and generally making derogatory comments, his eyes opened wide halfway through the second day after the launch of the new game when he found no one in the house, yet again. When I told him the children were all out and about in the village and surrounding countryside catching Pokemon, his eyes narrowed thoughtfully. I could see his thought processes at work. I said to him blithely, “Think of them as electronic conkers, or small trout in a stream, perhaps field mushrooms or blackberries. Perhaps…” and I eyed his camera in an obvious manner, “…some unusual insect you need to photograph?” My suggestion was instantly met with an understanding grin.
Kids out and about when they wouldn’t normally be is a good thing in the right circumstances, and whether Pokemon Go was designed for this reason or not it has proved to be a terribly clever way to get children moving, walking, running and enjoying the great outdoors, even if they’re still attached to some electronic device, which is the part I don’t like so much. It’s a simple concept but also a very clever one and the value of Nintendo stocks have gone through the roof. The children and I have gone all over the place and in the past week we’ve explored a local 12th century Château which is apparently a Pokemon gym! (Don’t ask, I really don’t understand either; I am just happy being the chauffeur and loving the excuse to go out and about, act like a tourist and take photos).
It is quite infectious and 20 year-old Izzi was every bit as excited as the others. Yesterday I took Gigi to St Palais Sur Mer to play tennis with a girl from Paris of her own age and skill level; she and her family are here on holiday and they met at a tournament recently and instantly became friends (I love the way 9 year-old’s make ‘best’ friends in the blink of an eye). Normally it would have been just Gigi and I, but we were joined in the car by three more of the children and whilst Gigi thwacked balls at breakneck speed over the net the others ran around the park catching Pokemon and ‘hatching eggs’ – at least I think that’s roughly how it works, I’m still getting the hang of this. What I have learnt is they have to walk a certain distance for different eggs to hatch, this is no mere quick stroll around the garden, a 10km walk will contain rare Pokemon, a 2km one will be far more common; Jack is claiming to have covered 20kms in the past two days alone! I think I’m being a responsible parent by showing sufficient interest while still asking silly questions which create great hilarity as the children fall about laughing at my stupidity!
On the hour the news popped up on the radio, and quelle surprise, Pokemon Go was the lead story; the big cities, Paris, Marseille and our far more local Bordeaux were all mentioned and it appeared the game was causing a huge stir.
“Can we go to Bordeaux for the day, or perhaps Paris?” came the immediate requests from my young passengers. “No” I said firmly, “but I will take you into Rochefort for an hour or two after lunch.”
I was crazy enough to lend Hetty and Gigi my mobile phone to walk around the town with on the strict instructions they could not drop it, as both are too young to have their own cellphones. Call me stupid, but when it comes to children having fun I’m a total pushover! They walked and captured strange creatures with their teenage siblings as Izzi and I relaxed with coffee and watched the world go by.
During a break in the hunt, we went up in the Ferris Wheel, a temporary summer attraction right in the heart of the Place Colbert that offers the most incredible views over the small city.
This was followed by ice cream, naturally.
On the way home, someone shouted “Quick – there’s one on my radar, in that car park over there!” In a whirl, I duly indicated and took a swift right-hand turn, and we drove around the car park three times in our quest!
The dogs are also loving this latest craze; they are going for so many walks, several times a day, through towns and villages,
out in the country; there are Pokemon in the middle of nowhere.
It’s probably at this juncture that I should mention that our little Evie is actually named after a Pokemon; it’s meant to be spelt Eevee, but I didn’t follow the rules and spelt it just as I would a girl’s name! Needless to say the children were the ones who named her this time last year, and yes, we’ve had her with us for a year now, how time flies.
I’ve been places I’ve never been before and while they walk about chasing the beasties, snapping Pokemon, I make good use of my camera and snap pictures; it’s a win win all round.
They’ve even found them on the beach; the smile on Jack’s face reflects the capture of a super rare specimen that was very unexpected, apparently.
At this stage the girls lost interest, the lure of the sea and their body boards stealing their attention.
I’m not sure this guy was catching his Pokemon the correct way.
If you’re still totally confused, welcome to my world, because I am too. But in the end I think it’s just another way of seeing this beautiful part of France and l hope you have enjoyed sharing a little bit of my life as mother of five Pokemon Go crazy children!