Battlefields 2012

 Monument4 days, 3 countries, 2 ferry rides and a coach full of tired, grumpy and absolutely brilliant people...

On Thursday 1 March to Sunday 4 March 2012, a bunch of Year 9 students attended the battlefields trip. We had an amazing time- an experience we will probably never have again! (Until Normandy that is...). The trip was very educational, but still very fun. Thank you very much to Mrs Price for the organising, you did an outstanding job. So, here is how the ‘story’ goes...
Day 1: We had to attend school as normal - the people you saw walking around in non-uniform - us, the 44 students going on the trip. After a long wait, we charged to GP1 to collect our stuff (all far too much of it) and with some help from Brian, our excellent driver for the trip, loaded it on. After a laugh at our passport photos, we set off for a long drive to the ferry, some of us picking up a KFC on the way. Dover we picked up one last person, Neil from Nottingham our absolutely wonderful guide! After a 1 1/2 hour ferry trip full of food, sea sickness, titanic impressions on the deck and, probably the best things ever invented, Costa coffee fruit coolers (Yum!), we arrived in France. Straight to the hotel and bed.
 TrenchesDay 2: The Somme is a region of France that was at the centre of World War 1. We covered pretty much all of it by going over, through and around the same areas again and again. But we saw the sites of some massive battles and learnt how tractors in the area have extra reinforcement due to unexploded shells! Also, included was the Loch Nagar crater. Between this and our first cemetery visit there was a lot. There was a trip to Canada, well the Newfoundland memorial, after the many cries of "it's a moose," some people finally pointed out that, as the museum had said, it was a caribou. From there to the Highlanders memorial, followed by Thiepval. It was massive and an incredible sight to behold, and really hit home the scale of this horrific event. After this crazy day, we headed over to our Hostel, which was very nice. The rooms were lovely, the food was lovely, the table tennis tables were lovely... until ‘floor tennis’ was created... then havoc unrolled! And maybe a group of 8 girls in a room was possibly not the best idea; at 11.00 pm we were still having showers, and everyone else was trying to sleep! Oops.
Day 3: We spent the whole day in Ieper also spelt as Ypres in English, earning it the name of 'Wipers' from the British troops, first it was the town centre and nutella; smurf; ferrero rocher ice cream. After starting at the Cathedral and cloth hall we headed off for Talbot House. After hearing some stories about the happy hoppers and having a cup of tea we headed to Hill 62. Hill 62 was a very ‘interesting’ place, with the rather quirky museum and the just plain weird museum extension (the sight of dressed-up mannequins and stuffed animals is enough to scare anyone) we all chucked on wellies and headed to the trenches for a taste of the war. Mud, water and holes do not go well with over-excited children... And the pitch-black uneven floored tunnel was an experience in its own league. After trudging through trenches, jumping over trenches and being creeped out for life in the museum, we headed to Hill 62’s little bro: Hill 60. At Hill 60 we managed to cram 39 people into an old German bunker, heard some stories and chased some sheep. Off to Ieper for the Menin Gate ceremony very moving and interesting. But before that, we had some free time, in Ieper, with Euro’s, and unlimited access to a fun-fair.
 TrenchesDay 4: Tynecot cemetery. It was incredible. German cemetery, back to Canada, first gas attack. The Return. I am sure some parents could hear jaws theme tune (duh duh duh duh) playing in the background as a coach of grumpy exhausted and fed up people and some students travelled down the motorways home. Some lovely singing of the oh so famous ‘Mr Dragon’ filling our ears aswell. Yet another ferry trip... Same happened as the way there... Oh except it was daylight. Some parents must have been contemplating not picking up their children. On the other hand the said coach was full of chocolate so the parents turned up!
Some funnies of the trip:
Driving teachers round the bend; Dog with a hairband; People on the coach singing over and over again; Playing cards on the coach, badly.
Having far too much stuff; Teacher catering/delivery service; Brian, Neil and the Teachers; Being buried alive; The last minute rush to get homework done on the return trip; Hostel guide; Going to bed; Having a shower; Unhealthy diets (extremes)
 MonumentMay I just point out the unhealthy diets to you all: Basically, if you cannot control yourself with unlimited access to junk food and Euro’s, please diet before this trip. Sometimes it was discovered that a bar of chocolate, Pepsi, 3 packets of crisps, a huge baguette and a Costa fruit cooler does not do favours for your health.
To sum up, to all the future Year Groups who may go on this trip, please go. It is an experience that you will never have again. Trust me, its fun. So once again a massive thank you to Mrs Price for organising the trip; to Neil our guide for just being awesome; to Brian the bus driver for being so kind and yet another being awesome and to the other 4 teachers for coming along, (nice table tennis skills Mr McGivern). Thank you everyone for reading.
By Emma Madden and Leonie Terrill