Chamonix – Homeward Bound

And so it was that the dawn – recovering from a traumatic week of breakages – managed to creep into the valley like a thief in the night. Quite remarkable really because it needed to cope with some really thick mountain fog. Full marks for perseverance and improved technique.

07:00 and the hotel resounded to the teachers doing their early morning alarm calls. Quelle surprise. Beaucoup des enfants were already up and about, more or less packed. Neither a Lie-In King nor a Lie-Iness Award today.

Rooms were hives of activity as clothes / presents were stuffed into suitcases, rubbish collected into bin bags or vice versa. Rooms were tidied for inspection. Who’s going to win the tidiest room award (We are having an ‘Chamonix Oscars’ Ceremony on the bus tomorrow)

After breakfast everyone moved into a higher gear. The drivers’ deadline for departure was 09:00 hrs. If Cammy and one or two others hadn’t managed to mislay keys we would have been away earlier but, even so, we managed to leave only five minutes late. Jean-Paul, the hotelier, came to see us off. For the second year in a row he complimented the pupils on their good behaviour.

We started down the hill to the motorway. The Proclaimers would, if dead, be turning in their graves to hear the back seat crew murdering “500 Miles”. Most memorable line – “ If I slaver, I’m gonna be the guy who’s slavering over you”. Charming. Actually, it’s “havering” chaps.

So on through France we rolled, kilometres clicking past at a consistent rate – almost exactly 100 per hour. The motorways are so smooth that it almost makes travelling painless (poetic licence again). We swashed and buckled our way out of the mountains with Captain Jack Sparrow as we strove towards World’s End (aka Prestonpans). The mountains and the foothills faded from view behind us as we began to cross central France.

Lunch at Dijon showed our drivers were really cutting the mustard. Many of us took the chance to eat al fresco. The French surely must have a word for that. Oh yes, pique-nique.

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Then it was back in the coach and onward. By teatime we were only 100 miles from Calais. A quick final leg, another 360 litres of fuel and it was into the ferry terminal to wait for our ship.
(To be continued tomorrow in our final blog “School’s Out For Summer”)

Quote Of The Day
“1943 ? Was I born then ?”
(Whilst looking at a dated picture of people working on the cables of the Aiguilles du Midi)
Well, if you’ve just finished First Year, there’s a good chance the answer’s going to be “No”.

Chamonix – River Deep, Mountain High

As has happened every day so far, dawn has broken although so far, no-one has actually given us a bill for the breakages. We’re quite glad as we don’t actually feel it’s our fault. Last night we saw a couple of clouds lurking but they crept away during the night. So once again, the horn peak – having been bathed in yesterday’s gentle evening rays – was kissed by the early morning sun. What an idyllic existence.

However we had time to contemplate the success of our trip so far. It’s been so warm that temperatures are almost high enough to meet Mrs Proudfoot’s stringent criteria for ‘hot enough’. After four years with us she has gone on the Holland trip. She’ll probably find it rather flat after our trip to the French Alps. There’s a palpably untrue rumour that the teachers only went on that trip because they had heard that Holland’s major (only) geographic feature was the Cider Sea. Sorry chaps. It was actually the Zuyder See and it was non-alcoholic. That’ll be a geography joke then!!!

Periodically we’re finding “Blah, blah, blah’ inserted into our blog. Reading the Holland trip blog it’s obvious who the culprit is. There’s only one person with administrator rights. (However, it does at least show he’s mastered the use of ‘copy’ and ‘paste’ commands and why in an earlier life he taught sums rather than English.)

Anyway back to the ranch, or more precisely the Hotel L’Aveniere where Jean-Paul and his staff have been ministering most excellently to our needs. We now have a new award. With two of our lads having won the Lie-In King Awards, it was the turn of the girls this morning. Bearing in mind that it’s a jungle out there, we now have the Lie-Iness Award. Josie and Jade went all out to win it, Josie winning when Jade blinked first. One extreme to the other Josie ? However, Josie proved that girls can get up, shower, do their hair and still get to breakfast in under 10 minutes if they want to. Theme tune of the day “I hear you knocking, but you can’t come in”.

Breakfast eaten, lunches made and on to the bus even faster than yesterday, we set off for Chamonix. We arrived at the Aiguilles du Midi where we found that the various accesses we would normally use were all blocked off and the car park closed. Just what you’d expect at Chamonix’s Premier attraction. Signage and advance warning – zero. Well done chaps.

Anyway we bought the tickets and went up in the cable cars. Normally these go up like rockets but today were very sedate. The cause – wind higher up. That meant we couldn’t go across the ice field in the smaller telecabine but we enjoyed the dramatic scenery, the bracing mountain air and the cafe.

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Then it was back into Chamonix for lunch and shopping. I get the impression that most of the girls enjoy shopping and there’s only one thing better than that – more shopping ! After that and it was off to the Parc de Loisirs for a final couple of shots on the luge.

That was exciting but then the real excitement began. A Frenchman tried to take Ava’s sunglasses, claiming they belonged to his daughter. The girls came back and got Miss McCredie (family motto : Nemo Me Impune Lacessit : aka you REALLY don’t want to mess with THIS lady !). Showing a pugnacity at odds with her normal, gentle demeanour, she retrieved the glasses effortlessly – leaving the errant Frenchman with, as they say, his gas at a low peep. To (mis)quote a 10cc song “She was cool, she was calm, she was always in control. She said ‘Blood will flow’…”

Then it was back to the hotel for dinner where the entree was a really nice cheese in pastry dish followed by – oh, nirvana – pommes frites. In the best French tradition they were accompanied by steak hache (burgers). The moo was still echoing around the kitchen as they were being served. However, that cow’s ultimate sacrifice was not in vain.

So it was that the evening finished with football and a lot of packing for the morrow.

Quotes of The Day
“They strawberry tarts were like steak pies without the steak.”
(Last night’s dessert was strawberries and cream in puff pastry)
(On walking out on to the observation platform at the top of the Aiguilles)
“That’s a real luge. Better than that one in First Year”
(Thanks for that. He did tell me which country the trip went to but I couldn’t find ‘Pays-Bas’ in the atlas).
“Martin, are you going to audition for the part of Legless when they remake Lord Of The Rings ?”
(He’s had to put up with a lot of limp or lame jokes about his knee but he takes it in good part.)
“How do you ask for pommes frites ?”
It’s a wild guess but it might, just might, be ‘pommes frites'”

Hyper Holland

Holland continues with another excellent day out. We travelled into Belgium to visit Bobbejaanland Theme Park – well worth the trip. The Preston Lodge guys ‘n’ gals hit the rides with their usual bravado – no ride is too scary for us. Bring it on!

Mrs Christie played a key role today guarding bags and catching some rays while the rest of us fought in the queues for the rides and tried to cram as much junk food as possible into 5 hours. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it. Health Promoting Schools is what WE are talking about!

We have heard that the Chamonix trip is enduring its toughest year EVER as Whatcott’s jokes have reached an all time low. We thought they couldn’t get any worse! Mr Stewart and Joe our bus driver are putting up a good fight for the title of bad joke teller 2008 – the score stands at 10 all so far. Have you heard the one about blah blah blah…?

Pupils are encountering significant challenges this week in managing their money. Some pupils are trying to work (or should I say “diddle”) the bank system to claim as many euros as possible to play in the arcades. On a serious note, parents, you should expect some bouncy balls and cheap teddy bears as your holiday souvenir this year. In fairness, many of them are putting their minds towards some last minute (panic) gift buying in Gouda tomorrow – a block of cheese anyone?!

The pupils have been great and we can all be proud of the way they have represented the school and themselves this week. Having said this, with 2 sleeps to go and excitement mounting, we may change our minds on this one!

Who will buy the most cheese in Gouda? Who will be the first to declare bankruptcy? Who will be the pupil to lose their mobile phone (there is always one)? Will we win the quiz on the boat again? Will we get any sleep during our last night at the Hotel? Click on on Friday to find out!

Over and out.

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Holland – Sliding & Caving & Swimming

Hi again from Holland

The weather is really hot.

Today we started at the Chairlift (up the mountain – well it counts as a mountain in Holland!!!). We then had about an hour of Rodelbahn-ing.

We then had some lunch and went on a train ride through the lime caves in Valkenburg. These have been around since Roman times but have more recently been used as a nuclear shelter for 15000 people in Valkenburg – when I say used I mean ready to be used but not actually used!!

It was then down to the swimming pool for some sunbathing and splashing around.

After dinner we went to the “Lasertag”- Mrs.Hoban was victorious, Mrs.Proudfoot was all talk!! Mr.Evans came last due to the red-green team confusion.

There is no blah blah blah in Belgium – tomorrow we invade “Bobbejaanland

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Holland – Screaming!!!!

Monday on the Holland trip.

Everyone was down for breakfast at 8am – well almost everyone – some needed a second wake up call.

The journey to Phantasialand took us just over an hour and driver Joe got us to the park for just after opening time.

The weather was scorching all day so hats, shades and sunscreen were very much in order. The park was pretty busy but the fun was immense.

Check out the video of team PL meet the Tolocan.

We stayed in the park until 5pm and then returned over the border to our hotel in Valkenburg.

After dinner we had a night in the hotel – bowling alley a knockout competion with six teams. The bowling is nine pin rather than ten pin and we played a team game.

No travelling tomorrow as all the activities are in Valkenburg.

Holland Calling

Hi everyone Holland Calling

On Saturday morning we set of from the school for the drive to Hull. We stopped a couple of times on the way, and arrived at the ferry in good time. Once we were settled into our cabins we had our buffet dinner which was fantastic!

In the evening there was a choice of Cinema, Football or cabaret. Our exceptionally talented staff won a mini cruise as first prize in the “Are you smarter than a 10 year old quiz”.

On Sunday morning we had to be up early for breakfast, and them on the road to Amsterdam.

We spend the a few hours here and went on a Canal boat tour, and then spent sometime looking at the shops. There was a big concert event taking place in Dam Square which we watched for a short time.

Then back to the bus and on to Valkenburg.

We arrived at our hotel about 6.00pm and once we had freshened up, we had our dinner. Hotel op de boud

The weather in Amsterdam was really warm but when we arrived in Valkenburg there was a thunder storm and really heavy rain – also hail stones the size of sugar cubes! This soon passed and we went for a walk into Valkenburg town to check out the cafes, shops and local sites.

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All are well!

Tomorrow (Monday) we head to Germany and Phantasialand

Preston Lodge High School goes global!