Thursday 8th June.
A little treat to get you all ready for the return of your little angels. They truly have been a real dream to be away with! Remember to pick them up at BELFAST INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT at 13:10 easyjet flight number 6772.
Wednesday 7th June.
All slept very well last night and all made it down to another beautiful breakfast. We met our 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! The children 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 39 children is never a good idea) we headed for the sightseeing bus to take us to the zoo but not before a stop to Starbucks! Who ever thought a Starbucks would excite the children so much - definitely a highlight for many. Something that they didn't enjoy quite so much was being charged €1 to use the toilet. Usually we had 39 little sheep following each other when visiting the bathroom, however for some reason this time we only had a few, whilst some others decided to partake in a little dance until we arrived at the zoo.
As we arrived at the zoo, the weather was looking good with some sunshine 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 to see some baby meerkats- Mr Beckett was trying to sneak one home as a present! However, the highlight had to be the baboons - what a fascinating spectacle that was! Again they didn't cease to amaze or disgust us, 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!
From here we headed to see the large cats before going to the gorilla house. Again we were treated to seeing some little baby orangutangs and gorillas - they really were just like the teddies in the gift shop! We then headed to see the bears , raccoons and finally the flamingos! Sadly for Mrs Anderson this wasn't the last animal she met as the children had discovered her fear of snakes, somehow! Let's just say she was glad that she was in the Girl Guides and was always well prepared! Every child had an absolutely brilliant day and really made the most of their time in Cologne.
As always, dinner was gourmet standard and all the children were well fed and watered ( A bit like the Sea-lions!). We then headed up the town for an ice-cream and a chance to sample a piece of the continental lifestyle, if only we had the sun back home!
Another fantastic day had by all. The staff is fading fast, but the children just keep on going. Hopefully another day of great weather tomorrow, especially for our sun worshippers!! Enjoy the pictures.
Tuesday 6th June
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 never even had a chance to give the children an educational talk about the cloud factory as many of them seemed to be trying to catch flies, eyes wide shut mouths wide open. The weather wasn't looking too great but as we got closer to our destination there was blues skies on the horizon, Mrs Anderson was very excited!!
When we arrived Mr Beckett headed for the tickets whilst the rest of the children got 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 only short queues and therefore we were all ready to go. Once inside, we headed straight for the Runaway Train, however on the way the children were distracted by the swings and once on these there was no doubt that Towerview had arrived! A full ride load of children in their red jumpers screaming and chanting, "Towerview," as they were whizzed around! Then it was off to the Runaway Train. This had been classed as a 'ride for everyone' and therefore all the children braved it. On closer inspection, and by the looks on some of the children's faces by the end, this may need to be upgraded next year!
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 'Tower of Terror' then 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!!
Whilst the A group were doing this the other children had some fun of their own. First it was the Tattle Tree. Before heading to the Log Flume. They seemed to really enjoy this ride and five goes later, yes FIVE, they finally decided to give Mr Lawther and Mrs Dawson a break. The children just loved the massive drop and disco during the ride - who would've guessed they were in a B group!!
After this we all met up for lunch, well at least food. The children had been given €20 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. For the first time some of the children got to sample the 'Taron' - the fastest multi-launch roller-coaster in the world!! What a treat this was, the children came off looking like Jedward!
We went on 'Fear and Force', 'Au chocolatier' (Mr Lawther was an expert in this) and even had time to sample a few of the attractions for a second time. The children all had a ball and gave their everything, with many conquering their fears!
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 some fun outside in the evening sun before heading off to bed after another very busy day!
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 5th June
Finally all tucked up in bed after another fantastic day!! I only hope the weather back home is as good as we woke up to today! The sun was splitting the trees and had been shining from very early on. We know this because despite going to bed around 1am, we had children up, showered and ready to go at 6am (that's 5am to you)!!!! No lack of sleep was going to stop our excitement!
Breakfast was a real treat! We had eggs, toast, cereal, fruit salads, you name it the kids ate it even chocolate and colourful sprinkle covered toast, yum - at least they'll get a little extra energy! 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 39 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 warm and picturesque Drielandenpunt! Once we arrived we had our lunch in the park 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 39 children, reinforcements of Mr Lawther, Mr Beckett and Mrs Anderson were sent in!! Even with Mr Lawther directing from above, we couldn't get the children out. It was only when they finally appeared soaking wet from the maze fountains that we realised they had been having alfresco showers - maybe they thought the maze was the swimming pool!
Once on the bus it was off to Mosaqua swimming pool. 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 dodge the life guards! 2 hours of pure fun and enjoyment and not a whistle was heard! 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 Beckett. 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 finding all sorts of hiding places and picking off their targets!!! 30 minutes of endless action and it was a much slower and much longer walk back to the hotel.
Once back at the hotel we were treated to some evening entertainment on the lawn to some music and dancing. The only thing missing for Mrs Dawson was a Pims, oh and a microphone of course!
We couldn't have planned the weather any better, Mrs Anderson, our own sun worshipper, has enjoyed every minute of it! The children 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 4th June
Greetings from Holland!! All arrived safely and in bed HOPEFULLY sleeping. Apologies for the short blog, however, as you may already know we arrived in Schipol, Amsterdam pretty late and have only just reached our hotel!
What a day it has been! Once we got through the road works in Bangor it was a smooth trip to Apple Green. But unlike our journey it wasn't just quite as smooth for the staff when 39 children and 5 hungry adults all arrived at once looking fed. The children had a choice of Burger King or Subway with most going for a sandwich. Needless to say this resulted in a very large line but all were very patient and didn't even seem too annoyed when they found out that there was no lettuce or cucumber available! However, a little tip if you're going past Apple Green and you fancy a Pepsi maybe think twice as the kids bled it dry.
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 Anderson, the bags didn't even get weighed. A big thank you to Mrs Flanagan and Robert Wilson we really were treated like royalty, it's amazing what a chocolate cake can get you!
As a result the children had extra time and used it wisely filling themselves full of nutritious sweets, crisps and fizzy drinks!! Mr Beckett and Mr Lawther caught up on the Sunday papers, Mr Brown very kindly offered to look after the bags and Mrs Dawson ran around frantically trying to find a toothbrush as she had forgotten to pack her own! On a serious note all the children were a credit to Towerview and we were very proud of every one of them, even getting a special mention from members of the public for there exemplary behaviour.
Once on the plane it was clear we had a few nervous fliers. However, you wouldn't have guessed this as on take off our pupils had there arms stretched wide, trying to take off themselves! The kids behaved themselves and were sensible throughout. The same however, can not be said about Mrs Dawson. She got a lovely cup of coffee and as she went to drink it failed to check if the lid was on and poured it all over her "brand new Ralph Lauren shirt!" Lucky she wasn't hurt as Mr Lawther very kindly applied some ice - pity she now smells like a cappuccino!
The coach met us at the terminal and we all felt famous as the driver stood waiting for us. It was then that the teachers thought we had met a rock star as all the children starting shouting and waving at someone - turned out it wasn't a rock star but someone even better as we bumped into Mrs Boyd on a quiet weekend break away with her husband. - she was so glad to see us!
Our bus driver is called Jordi, he is lovely and speaks very good English, thank goodness, as neither Mr Brown or Mr Beckett's Dutch is great! The weather looks good and it is dry, let's hope it stays like this and the sun comes out - Mrs Anderson is expecting to top up her tan!!
The children are all very tired and have been great travellers! Sleep time now, hopefully a quiet night ahead in preparation for the fun ahead tomorrow. Enjoy the photos!!