The school where I work currently does a “trip week” every year around this time. Depending on what grade the students are in determines the trip the take (11th graders to go either New York City or Krakow, Poland; 10th graders, if they are in the international section go to Rome, or are in Spanish go to Majorica; 9th graders go to Prague; 8th graders go to the UK; 7th graders go to a camp in northern France; 6th graders go to Isle of Wight; 5th graders to go either London or the USA; and 4th graders go to a castle in the UK. Phew!)
I was lucky enough to spend five days with wonderful colleagues and 65 eighth grade (4ème) students in the UK. We left on Sunday morning bright and early and arrived in the UK in the early afternoon.
Day 1 was spent in Kent at Leeds Castle, or the Loveliest Castle in the World, as it has been deemed. One of the most visited in Britain, Leeds Castle was originally used by Henry VIII and his first wife, Catherine of Aragon. Students luckily spent their evenings with host families while we were put up in a B & B in Clacton-on-Sea.
Day 2 was spent in Cambridge, which was just beautiful. We had a lively tour guide who showed us all of the main colleges of the university campus (most notably, King’s and Trinity colleges), as well as a few important spots, including the oldest pub in the city. During the afternoon we were able to do a bit of shopping as well as take a punting tour in the boats, which was a beautiful way to spend a lovely afternoon and to see the lovely buildings from another angle. I’m not sure if I prefer Oxford or Cambridge!
Day 3 was spent in London, which was a long drive from Clacton-on-Sea, but it was a lovely day with lovely weather. We started off with a tour of the Tower of London, followed by a Thames River Boat Cruise and a stop in Parliament Square, and finally with a stroll in St. James’s Park (before indulging in Fish n’ Chips near the London Eye.)
Day 4 was spent more locally in two bordering towns– Colchester and Harwich. Both towns included a tour (Colchester is the oldest city in the UK and contains Roman Ruins), with some shopping opportunities in Colchester and lovely cream tea (so very British) at sea in Harwich. An early night back meant a nice night out for staff during the evening.
Day 5, departure day, meant trekking to the town of Canterbury, where we got a wonderful tour around the (very impressive!) cathedral. Afterwards, students had a bit of time to wander, which means so did I. I really, really liked Canterbury, and would like to go back and explore more on my own time.
Luckily for me, in France, schools are not allowed to schedule school trips during the vacation. So, now, I am on holiday until the end of April. Now that I teach full time in France, I especially appreciate the down time. When we get back, it will be time for Compos, Bac Blancs, and Bac Orals, which will carry us until the end of the year. My first week of the holidays will consist of writing exams and correcting DSTs (midterms). The time is going to fly by, but I can (almost) see the light at the end of the tunnel.