London Student Trip - November 2016​

Some of the students outside Buckingham Palace

The weekend before last I was sat a home watching the rain pour down for most of the day thinking, oh gosh I hope it doesn’t rain like this next weekend during our London trip. Luckily when Saturday 26 November came the sun was shining, albeit on a very cold crisp day. I met all the students from their coaches at Victoria Coach station between 10 and 11 am along with Tracey one of our Area Reps and Michelle a Host Mother and Area Rep. Tracey had not been to London for many years so took the opportunity to join us, help out and bring along Lola, her 7 year old daughter.

Michelle had travelled down from Birmingham with the 6 students from the Redditch area, and the other coaches arrived from Swansea and Peterborough.

As a group we totalled 24 so I knew we had a busy weekend ahead! 

Buckingham Palace was the first stop for us all and it was a grand way to start the day. Seeing the famous balcony where the Royals stand to wave at the crowds on state occasions and celebrations, plus the opulent gates and golden statues. It was great to see so many selfie sticks come out and group pics.

Braving the outside temperatures to get the best views of the city on the coach tour

From Buckingham Palace we walked through Hyde Park to Knightsbridge where we headed to Harrods. A must for all London visits. Both Michelle and myself have lived in London before and we could honestly say we have never seen London so busy. Outside Harrods was a magician entertaining a huge crowd with tricks and jokes and inside Harrods it was packed with Christmas shoppers. Tracey informed the group that Harrods was the first shop in London to have an escalator. These days there are more escalators than it is possible to count. Favourite bits seemed to be the lego store and the obligatory trip to the toilets with free perfumes for all to use. 

After all the walking we hopped on the London Tour bus, taking us through the west end, past Oxford Street, Regent Street and Trafalgar Square. There are four plinths on Trafalgar square, all four are meant to hold equestrian statues, however, funds for the fourth plinth ran out. Therefore, each year it holds a rolling programme of temporary artwork. This year there is a giant hand with an enormous thumbs up as pictured below.

The fourth plinth at Trafalgar Square

​Our next stop was Covent Garden. By this time it was starting to get dark so the Christmas lights were on and street entertainers were out in force. They included a man on a unicycle juggling, a group of violinists playing classical music whilst doing a can-can style dance and a silver statue man who seemed to be suspended in mid-air. The market was bustling with shoppers who warmed up with a hot chocolate, which was much needed as the evening chill set in.​

​After a few hours of free time we all came together again to head to Planet Hollywood as everyone was starving. On our way we took in the magical sites of Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus. After dinner there was a lot of excitement about some free time for shopping on Regent Street and Oxford Street and to take lots of photos of the wonderful Christmas lights against the backdrop of London black cabs and red buses.

Cold and ready for bed we headed to our accommodation near St. Paul's Cathedral. After a long day most of us headed straight for bed, however, I understand that there may have been talking, chatting and laughing late into the night!

Everyone was up early for a hearty cooked breakfast before heading out again. A quick trip for pictures of the magnificent St Paul's, we walked over the famous Millennium Bridge and a brisk walk along the South Bank to the London Eye. As I am terrified of heights it was up to Michelle and Tracey to escort the students onto the Eye. 

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View from the student's pod on the London Eye

After the Eye we took a walk across Westminster Bridge with more fabulous views of the houses of Parliament and Big Ben. Then for the River Cruise. The team from Redditch had time to get off at Tower Bridge with Michelle as their return coach home was later on in the afternoon. 

The Swansea and Peterborough team got the return cruise straight back to Westminster. Time seemed to run away with us and it became clear that if we were to get the bus back to Victoria Coach Station we would not make it on time for the coach home. The final moments of our trip was a taxi dash from Westminster Square to Victoria with only a few minute to spare and hopefully will make a fun story to share!

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Walking towards Westminster

I was so impressed with all our students for their mature and responsible attitude throughout the trip. Everyone stayed together, showed up at meeting points on time and generally made the most of the time we had. I hope it was enjoyed by all, it was great to see everyone again. Thanks to Michelle and Tracey for their help too and I hope to see you all on the next trip! 

Best wishes,

Sally x

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