Wednesday 1st June.
All slept very well last night and all made it down to another beautiful breakfast. Yet again we heard the familiar sound of rain outside and we knew that water was going to feature heavily in our day - we were correct! We could hardly see the road in front of us, the rain was so heavy and that was only outside the hotel!
We met our new driver Jordie and set off on the road to Cologne full of anticipation about the animals we were going to see at the zoo.The drive was comfortable until Mrs Dawson finally discovered the microphone on the bus. Needless to say there was drama and singing to keep the children entertained. Eventually, Mr Lawther got the mic and took over giving the children a talk about the history of Cologne Cathedral.
Once in Cologne we headed straight for the Cathedral - what an impressive building! We found out that this was one of the only buildings in Cologne not to be bombed during the 1000 bomber raids of WW2 because the RAF used it as a navigation point to plot their attacks. After a whistle stop tour, (spending a long time in a cathedral with 38 children is never a good idea) we headed for the sightseeing bus to take us to the zoo.
As we arrived at the zoo, the rain had lifted a bit and the excitement level was raised. You would think the first thing the children would want to do was visit the many animals, but no. Money definitely seems to burn a hole in some of your children's pockets! No sooner had Mr Lawther given them their pocket money than the children were heading straight for the gift shops. We saw many animals including hippos, camels, giraffes and even got up close and personal with some penguins. Mrs Anderson got a little confused and thought she saw a "hog-wart", Mr Beckett was looking everywhere for Herimone! However, the highlight had to be the baboons - what a fascinating spectacle that was! Let's just say it was lucky that the children had had "the talk" before they went to Holland - some of you may have a little more explaining to do! (You've all seen David Attenborough documentaries).
From here we headed to see the large cats before allowing Mrs Carson to lead us to the Gorilla house. After seeing the same giraffe three times we discovered that she may not know the way and should've really been wearing her glasses to read the map! We eventually made it and then headed to see the bears , raccoons and finally the meerkats! This year we even had the added bonus of visiting the Aquarium and Reptile house that was situated just outside of the zoo. All children and staff were very excited about this. However, no matter how hard we tried, we couldn't budge Mrs Anderson. Apparently she was tired - we think it may have had something to do with a certain slimy creature; you decide what we're talking about!
Again the children really didn't let the weather affect their day. Every child had an absolutely brilliant day and really made the most of their time in Cologne.
Traffic on the way home was a little heavier than expected, who would've thought that the roads would be busy at 16:45 in a city? As a result we were a little late for dinner and the teachers didn't even have time for a cup of tea! As always, dinner was gourmet standard and all the children were well fed and watered.( A bit like the Penguins!)
We had dessert on the move tonight as we had to head to the bowling alley for our allotted time. When we arrived the children were moving fast and furiously. However, this wasn't to get bowling, this was to get to the vending machines (check out the queue in the pictures). It was all very competitive, although there wasn't a three figure score in sight! A super evening had by all.
Another fantastic day had by all. The staff is fading fast, but the children just keep on going. Hopefully some better weather tomorrow, especially for our two sun worshippers!! Enjoy the pictures.
Tuesday 31st May
Another early start this morning. After a lovely breakfast we headed off to Phantasialand for a fun filled day of adventure. On the journey Mr Lawther gave the children an educational talk about the cloud factory and he rightly pointed out that it had been working overtime, with the amount of rain that had fallen yesterday. We then saw a bit of blue sky and Mrs Dawson was ready to ask Marcell to stop the bus and let her out to sunbathe as she needs to get her legs tanned before this important wedding.
When we arrived Mr Beckett and Mrs Anderson headed for the tickets whilst the rest of the children had a drink and a snack. The children were chomping at the bit to get into the park and once the barrier was raised poor Mr Brown was nearly run over! We were very lucky this year as there were no queues and therefore we were all ready to go. Once inside, we headed straight for the Runaway Train and there was no doubt that Towerview had arrived! A full train load of children in their red jumpers screaming and chanting, "Towerview," as they faced the twists and turns! Our next stop was the Colorado river ride and everyone ended up moist, damp or wet after that- seems to be a theme running through this trip, at least today we dried off more quickly!
After that the children chose which group they wanted to be in and we all headed off happily. Mr Beckett, Mr Brown and Mrs Anderson led the "A" team to the scariest rides and the rest of the staff headed for the more leisurely rides.
For the A group up first was the 'Tulacan', the ride that even the mention of the name sends chills down Mr Brown's back! The children were all very brave and couldn't wait to get on. Mrs Anderson on the other hand was very concerned about them and seemed to be almost trying to convince any child she spoke to to not try it she was even offering to wait at the exit with them - so thoughtful!! We then continued onto the 'Black Mamba' before lunch.
Whilst the A group were doing this the other children had some fun of their own. First it was the swings followed by the tattle tree. After this Mrs Dawson managed to get her own way and get the children in to see a show or two. The children were amazed with some of the stunts performed by the acrobats on stilts.
After this we all met up for lunch, well at least food. The children had been given €15 to get something to eat with and maybe a wee treat! However, this treat soon turned into a feast for many of them. We had candy apples, candy floss, slush puppies, metre long sweets and even chocolate crepes - just look at some of the pictures!!
Once fully fed and watered we went to take on some more of the rides Phantasialand had to offer. We went on 'Fear and Force', 'Au chocolatier' (Mr Lawther was an expert in this) and even went on the log flumes that actually have the biggest drop in Europe. The children all had a ball and gave their everything, with many conqueringtheir fears!
Before we left there was just a little while for some children to experience the 'Tulacan' and the 'Black Mamba' for the 1st time or even a 2nd time.Sadly this also meant that a member of staff had to step up and accompany the children. Mr Beckett had conveniently just purchased some nachos from the shop leaving it up to Mr Brown to take on this mantle - what an outstanding hero!
Finally it was time to head back to the bus, but not before another junk stop to get some strawberries covered in chocolate, this time however, it was not the children but Mrs Dawson!
On the journey home the children were exhausted and many fell asleep - the excitement had been too much for many of them, including the teachers. This was a fantastic trip and the children really pushed themselves to get the most out of their experience. A day that they will remember and talk about for many, many years to come.
The evening was much quieter as the children settled down to a movie in their pyjamas. A bonus to the teachers was that the sound of the film was all coming through individual headphones and as a result, apart from the odd random laugh out loud moment, the place was in complete silence - bliss!
All tucked up in bed now, ready for another exciting day in Cologne tomorrow. The children continue to be full of fun and excitement and really are having a blast! Again be very proud of them, a super group! Until tomorrow, enjoy the photos.
Monday 30th May
Finally all tucked up in bed after another fantastic day!! Whilst you were all at home sunning yourselves on your lovely bank holiday, we were all awakened by the familiar sound of rain!!! Although for some the rain must have started very early, because we had children up, showered and ready to go at 6am (that's 5am to you)!!!! Nothing was going to dampen our spirits!!!
Breakfast was delicious and some children even sampled the fine local cuisine of toast with chocolate spread and sprinkles!!! Our first activity was to show the children around the quiet, continental town of Valkenburg. Needless to say it didn't stay like this for long as 38 children were let loose on the local gift shops! You're all very lucky parents, some of the presents bought today really will sit proudly on your mantlepiece!!
From Valkenburg it was onto a very wet and misty Drielandenpunt! After the staff deciding that they didn't want to eat soggy sandwiches, we had our lunch on the bus before heading to the maze. Usually this trip takes around 20minutes to allow all the children to go into the maze and find their way to the exit, however this year this was not the case!! 45 minutes later and still no sign of all 38 children, reinforcements of Mr Lawther, Mr Beckett and Mrs Anderson were sent in!! Still, with Mr Lawther and Mrs Anderson directing from above, the children couldn't find the way out. Extreme measures were then taken. Any children that could fit made their escape through the gap in the gate before Mr Beckett had to climb over the 7ft barricade and lead the others to their freedom.
Once on the bus it was off to Mosaqua swimming pool. Finally an activity that being wet was actually a good thing! As they entered the building the excitement was palpable! Many faced their fears and met new challenges. They scaled heights, rode Rapids and tried to drown the teachers - no sorry that was actually Mr Brown who ambushed anything that moved! 2 hours of pure fun and enjoyment and not a whistle from the life guards in site! The children continue to be a real credit to both yourselves and Towerview!
Dinner was beautiful, the kids couldn't believe that it was a three course meal!! After dinner we headed to lazer tag in the caves. Everyone was very excited, including Mr Lawther. Our children are always very mannerly and polite, however, once they had that laser pack on them they changed!! Innocent girls became ferocious assassins and as for the boys, I think call of duty just came to life! Needless to say it was a very competitive game with the children ganging up and picking on poor Mr Beckett, Mr Lawther, Mrs Anderson and Mrs Dawson!!! 30 minutes and a few bruised adult egos later and we headed back to the hotel for a drink and snack.
It hasn't been the weather that we planned, especially our own two sun worshippers (Mrs Dawson and Mrs Carson), but the children haven't let that affect them at all. They have all been truly fantastic, giving their all in every activity and making the most of our time away. Amazing kids!!! Until tomorrow, Phantasialand- wish us luck on the rides!!!!
Sunday 29th May
Greetings from Holland!! All arrived safely and in bed HOPEFULLY sleeping. Apologies for the short blog, however, as you may already know we were delayed in Belfast for what felt like hours and hours and hours.... But was actually only an hour and a half and have only just reached our hotel.
It has been a day of delays that started right from the word go. On our way up the Bangor carriage way Mrs Anderson had a senior moment of panic and realised that the children were going to have no saved memories as she had forgotten to pack the diaries. One phone call later followed by a short delay, her knight in shinning armour had delivered them to the bus.
Once at the airport things started smoothly as Mrs Flanagan had somehow arranged special treatment for our group! As we arrived a new lane was opened especially for us and luckily enough for Mrs Carson, the bags didn't even get weighed.
Sadly as we move through security we discovered, much to the teachers annoyance, that our flight was going to be delayed. Imagine 38 children constantly asking, "Is it time yet?"
The children used the extra time wisely filling themselves full of nutritious sweets, crisps and fizzy drinks!! Mr Brown and Mrs Dawson had some retail therapy, Mr Lawther was nearly off on a hen weekend and Mr Beckett read the Sunday papers. On a serious note all the children were a credit to Towerview and we were very proud of every one of them.
Despite all the delays the flight was smooth and speedy without hitch. However, this was definitely the first year ever that a child had managed to smuggle 20, yes 20, chicken nuggets and a chip onto the plane.
The coach met us at the terminal, however, we had to drag Mr Lawther onto it as he was trying to catch a connecting flight onto Tokyo!! Our bus driver is called Marcell, he is lovely and speaks very good English, thank goodness, as neither Mr Brown or Mr Beckett's Dutch is great! The weather isn't up to Mrs Carson's standard as yet and Mrs Dawson is extremely worried as she has a wedding to get tanned up for - this may not be the last we hear of this wedding!!
Sleep time now, hopefully a quiet night ahead. Enjoy the photos!!