Category Archives: France 2017

Day 4 – Criel Beach, Archery + Fencing, The Cider Farm and the Disco by Mr Brampton

So it’s Thursday evening and the children wait in in dry-mouthed anticipation for their final hurdle – the disco. The teachers’ emotions verge more towards fear!

A beautiful day it has been once again, ideal for the day’s main event which was the trip to Criel-sur-mer beach where activities ranged from the more traditional (Mr Williams’ sandcastle building) to the more sporty (football, basketball).

The day started off however with archery and fencing at the chateau in which the children learned the difference between the blunt and sharp end of a foil (plastic ones just to reassure you) and how to hit quite a large target from 10 yards (not always achieved by both children and staff).

This afternoon, in an activity-packed day, we visited the cider farm, where we were schooled in the ways of producing cider and eau de vie (some of us took copious mental notes). It is a truly idyllic environment. The children sat under apple trees and willow trees as they learned the ins and outs of fermentation and distillation.

The competition for ‘top dorm’ is coming to its climax as I type as I hear Drill Sergeant Powell doing his rounds to be greeted by some truly imaginative mottos and performances, some involving re-writing of pop songs and even opera.

Now later in the evening, the children are bedding down for the night – no doubt ready to dream of running into the arms of their parents who have missed them so much 🙂

See you all tomorrow.

Mr Brampton



Hi all, this will be our last blog, keep your eye on Twitter for our journey home details – I will Tweet when we are amongst the green, green grass of home 🙂

Mr Powell

Posted in France 2017 | Leave a comment

Day 3 – Rouen

Hi all, we have just come from dinner at the end of a busy day here in Criel Sur Mer, the children are currently enjoying French games and mini olympics as I write. The last I saw was children trying some very strange methods at moving a large football between their knees from one end of the field to the other – some were jumping energetically and others were walking like they had cramp. I must say I did chuckle when I saw the variety of techniques on show.

Dinner was a lovely salad followed by some spicy merguez sausages (which are a real barbecue favourite here in France) and the children didn’t seem to miss the good old British banger too much. Pudding was a real treat; some Normandie apple tart – but to my surprise quite a few of the children turned it down – unbelievable!

This was not the case for all of our tourists however…….one child was left behind as the children left for their field games as he was devouring his second, then third slice of delicious tarte. When finally finished, he took a deep breath and walked uneasily to the door escorted by his group leader. He even made him stop so he could take a swig of water to wash it down. I certainly can’t picture this child currently taking an active role in mini olympics 🙂

Tonight also saw the second of our daily dorm inspections, highlights from the girls include a quiz show drama set-up where a not so bright contestant bribed the quiz master to win – I guess for the class of 2017 – money talks.

The girls dorms are all named after French deserts and one amusing moment was when the ‘crepe’ dorm introduced themselves loudly as a different sounding word that rhymes with rap. ‘we are the crepe dorm!’ they announced proudly – cue giggling from Mr Williams.

On the boys side, we had a very energetic and borderline disturbing Haka, it was odd to see such a vehement Haha at just 07:30 in the morning. I asked that same dorm to perform me a Star Trek based drama for tomorrow as their motto is ‘live long and prosper’ – which is a lovely motto for a week where so many of the children seem to be prospering so much.

Following on from yesterday’s 27-a-side 6P vs 6W football match, we were mercifully down to 16 a-side today and I’m sorry to say 6P were once against on the losing side. Despite my encouragement we seem a little vulnerable on the counter – but I’m not letting it get to me 🙂

Earlier in the day our big trip was to the beautiful city of Rouen where children were taken on a brilliant tour led by the brilliant staff here at the Chateau. In the spirit of our Chinese democracy conversations from yesterday we had some very inquisitive questions from one child in Mrs Turner’s group. He became very preoccupied with whether France was a Roman catholic country and then which other countries had a predominantly Roman Catholic population – I’m assuming this made for an interesting sidetrack to the young guide’s normal, historical tour of the stunning cathedral.

Rouen also bought our first visit to the market and as ever there were some funky purchases, we had children buying all sorts from overpriced fidget spinners to beauty products from Lush for their parents – lucky you if that ends up being your gift!

One amusing moment came from one child who couldn’t believe that Lush and Claire’s accessories were the ‘same as in Kingston!’ – what a small world we live in ay. Conversely, one child in my class couldn’t believe their luck when they were able to pick up Grape flavour Fanta and Dr Pepper ‘cola’ bottle sweets – apparently these are rarer than giant pandas in Twickenham – so they were delighted – obviously 😉

Tomorrow is archery, fencing, cider farm, Criel beach, team tech and the….DISCO!

As ever, all children are happy and are squeezing every last drop out of this busy week!

Mr Powell

Posted in France 2017 | Leave a comment

Day 2 – Dieppe and The Organic Cheese Farm by Mr Williams

Being woken by the pitter-patter of tiny feet is something you get used to when on school journey, particularly at 6.00 in the morning when the first flurry of movement starts. Today was no exception and by 7.45 the boys were all up after a good night’s sleep, dressed, washed (honestly), rooms tidy (really honestly), inspected and ready for breakfast. The girls matched the boys in timing and effort and we all met together outside the dining hall to go into breakfast as a school.

It was another bluebird sky, the perfect weather to go to Dieppe. The trip there was easy and we were soon by the harbour learning about the history and economics of Dieppe. More importantly the Cafe Tout va Bien was waiting to serve 63 crepes of different beautifulness – chocolat, citron ou sucre. All delightful and by the end the remnants covered the faces of every child (and staff members). A quick tour around the town which ended up at the memorial for an attack by Canadian forces in 1942 against the port, which was held by the Germans. Unbelievably the attack was plotted by no other than Ian Fleming (he of James Bond fame).

The visit to Dieppe ended up us all having a picnic lunch in the wonderful sunshine – the perfect spot.

Once watered, we got back onto the bus and made our way into the interior and visited a goat farm (welll there were cows as well but it was the making of chèvre (goat’s cheese) that we were there to enjoy). The farm had 73 goats, all of which were stroked and petted by the children. We then got chance to taste new cheese, less than a week old, and an older cheese, at the enormous age of one month old – both delicious and totally different tastes.

At last we made our way back to the chateau, not to rest but to play a 27-a-side football match. As Mrs Turner walked onto the pitch she was surprised to hear Mr Brampton and two boys talking about the relative merits of the Chinese system of government and whether it was diverse enough to promote change and development. Needless to say, the conversation stopped from time-to-time as one of the conversationalists got up to hoof a ball that had got within kicking range off in the direction of goal.

Dinner was accepted with open arms and mouths; an excellent tomato salad followed by fish and ratatouille and a chocolate desert – just what the doctor ordered.

Is it time for bed, I hear you cry? Oh no, not by any stretch. Off for mini Olympics and a lot of races and competition Everyone loving it.

You never know after today the pitter-patter of tiny feet may not start until 6.05 tomorrow! We can but hope!

Mr Williams

Posted in France 2017, Home | Leave a comment

Day 1 – The Journey, Nausicaa and Scrapheap Challenge

Hi all, you find me sat in teacher’s room here at the beautiful chateau where, by virtue of me holding my laptop, I have just avoided a water ballooning from some eager St Mary’s children as a ‘prize’ for winning scrapheap challenge – more to come on this later.

The day started with us making good time to Folkestone followed by a very quick passage through the tunnel, all children were excited to get going and the quick journey meant all were in fine fettle for Nausicaa. Our coach driver Sergio kindly put a Mr Bean film on for the children, I’d have thought Mr Bean might be a bit old hat for the class of 2017 but all seemed transfixed and giggled at the slapstick that was served up to them.

I’m pleased to say that our policy of no electronics is going well, the children have been playing hangman, playing cards and even….writing! One child must have been quite bored however, as I glanced over her shoulder to see she had drawn the most detailed biro drawing of an ice cream I have ever seen – two hours clearly put to good use 😉

We arrived at Nausicca in really good time and had a solid 1.5 hour visit which meant the children could really take the time to take in all the amazing exhibits. Three of our groups managed to see the sea lions being fed which was a real treat. The feeding was swiftly followed by ten children doing an impression of a sea lion , I can only imagine the other French tourists must have thought we were a bit odd – or maybe just British.

When we got to the Chateau I wandered over to check on the girls only to find Mr Williams purposefully wheeling a suitcase through the corridor with a child closely followed behind. He reliably informed me that there had been a suitcase mix up and he was on he look our for a similar navy blue case that belonged to the child he was with.

We got to the girl’s room and just as Holmes and Watson were deducing who’s bag had been mixed up, Mr Williams decided to check to the front pouch……in it we found a letter addressed to the parents of the girl who had cried foul in the first place, cue looks of incredulity from the two class teachers as we informed the girl that it must be hers all along. This one was a first for me, I’ve never even had a child not recognise their own case never mind be adamant someone had taken theirs – but on school journey, nothing surprises me.

So as I write the children have just finished scrapheap challenge and despite chants of MR POWELL! MR POWELL! my technology in hand saved my skin from a water ballooning.

However……….there was one man who was willing to step forward, cue Mr Williams (hoodie hood pulled tight around his head a la E.T) who stepped forward in front of 58 eager pupils to get his comeuppance, he took it really well and the children will have a fun memory to take with them into day 2. I will tweet a picture of said incident with this blog post.

A note about the food, we had mini pizzas, turkey escalopes, chocolate eclairs and of course….bags of baguette – one table seemed to create their own Eiffel Tower of bread which they dismantled with hungry intent.

Tomorrow is Dieppe and an organic goat’s cheese farm which we have never been to before so it should be good fun.

As ever, all children are happy and full of energy for the week ahead.

Mr Powell










Posted in France 2017 | Leave a comment

France 2017

Hi all, here is where you will find al of my daily blogs which I will write in the evenings. I will also post two Twitter updates a day.

I am currently blogging from the shuttle train; we are about to depart for La Belle France with Nausicaa aquarium first on the menu.

The children have just got an old fashioned, VERY loud ‘who we are…..where we come from….’ chant going – which I’m obviously delighted about 😉

Mr Williams just said ‘right I’m going to teach them a new one’, I’ll let you know how it goes, I’m presuming it’s something in Welsh.

As ever, all children are excited about the week and in good spirits.

Mr Powell



Posted in France 2017 | Leave a comment