I give you fair warning...*
But the Germans are coming.
Admittedly there's only about 50 or so and the majority are all under the age of consent but all the same, I'd keep well clear of the Canterbury/Margate/Dover area this coming week if I were you.
This morning Ben's class met at 8am in the car park opposite the swimming pool. The perfect place, lots of available car parking for all the parents, a big enough space for a coach or two, everyone knows where it is and there's even a small newsagents for last minute supplies. The plan was to meet at 8 and then for them to be gone by 8:30.
It was not to be. How the Germans got their reputation for punctuality and efficiency confounds me at times. At 8:45 I gave up and went home (had a German lesson organised for 9am and my teacher is always on time (!) It was pointless standing in the car park any longer waiting around, the coach had blacked out windows so it was impossible to see the children anyway.
The journey to Margate was scheduled to take about ten hours. I couldn't understand how this was possible, unless they were going by an old fashioned horse drawn coach, but no, the coach is of the modern variety, however it turns out that under German law the driver has to stop for 30 minutes every two hours or something crazy (I guess it's not crazy if it prevents senseless traffic accidents) They're actually not due in Calais until around 4pm and when I drive to my parents (just south of Birmingham) I can be there drinking tea and eating cake by then (and before you say it, it's not possible to speed on that journey, not without risking serious fines anyway).
The boys are prepared for the long journey though, they were planning to start with films on a laptop (with headphones and a headphone splitter) and when that battery is exhausted move onto someone's ipad and so on. The one thing none of them want to do is sleep. It only takes one evil minded child (mine) with a permanent marker (mine) and an evil sense of humour...I'm looking forward to seeing the resulting photos.**
Tomorrow the programme states that the class are going to Dover, to see the castle and the "secret war tunnels" and then onto Hastings. When I heard they were going to Hastings I was surprised. In my head I have Hastings as being "up north somewhere", probably near Hadrian's Wall...my historical knowledge is truly lamentable, but at least I've learnt something.
Wednesday is London and a boat trip along the Thames, the Tower of London and then walking along the Thames, I can hear the whining now, especially if/when the weather turns against them (although one mother did confide to me that she'd packed her son's waterproof trousers for him. I guarantee they will come back as neatly folded as they went, this is after all the child who wore shorts straight through the winter, snow included).
Thursday they have a day, a whole day, in Canterbury complete with an optional cathedral service (can see that being popular amongst the boys) I have no idea what they are going to find to keep them occupied in Canterbury for the better part of a day, although I know that one of the teachers (teaches English, History (bilingual) and English Literature) is quite keen to do the Chaucer tour (that sounds dull to me and I studied Chaucer***).
Friday is another day in London walking between the houses of Parliament, Horse Guards Parade, Buck House and Trafalgar Square (pray it doesn't rain) and after a trip to Madame Tussaud's they have a couple of hours free time. Some of the children are going to the British War Museum (that'll be the boys) the girls are heading straight to Abercrombie and Fitch and Ben and some mates are planning to wander about, they don't want to do any of the sights but they're too young to go into pubs so goodness only knows where they'll end up, I do hope Ben's friends aren't making the assumption that because he's English he knows his way around London. He's been there once, maybe twice and as a much younger child, ah well, there's safety in numbers!
So this week Jas and I are home alone, Ben's off having fun in England and Si is in Hannover at a huge (and terminally dull) exhibition. Maybe we should paint the house pink while they're both absent?
* at least 8 hours.
** I suggested a little Hitler 'tasch and another child sitting behind moving an arm into the appropriate postion.
*** can you believe that German kids study Chaucer in English Lit here? Can you imagine trying to understand the old English, do you translate it first into English and then German d'you think? And, what is the point? Chaucer seemed fairly useless and out of touch 20+ years ago in England, but in 2012 in Germany?