Friday 7th June
”And now the end is near and so we face the final...” Mrs Dawson would you please stop singing!!!
Almost there a little treat for you all tonight!
Remember, pick up tomorrow at Belfast International Airport 10:15am.
Holland 2019 - over and out
Thursday 6th June.
A night to remember, not only was Mrs Dawson and Mrs Anderson’s sleep interrupted but the whole hotel was woken up to the most amazing thunder and lightening storm, it was like a laser show. We thought the children may be frightened, but not this lot. They had the curtains open, lights off and faces squashed against the windows to watch, it was awesome! As soon as it was finished curtains were closed and we all slept very well.
Another delicious breakfast this morning before meeting our driver Koen, Miss McMaster looked devastated that it wasn’t Carlo! We set off on the road to Cologne full of anticipation about the day ahead. The children are becoming professional travellers now, before we could even get started they had their USB cables plugged in and ready to charge. Mr Lawther was genuinely puzzled to see a sea of wires - it wasn’t like this in his day!
Once approaching Cologne, Mr Lawther got the mic and took over giving the children a talk about the history of Cologne Cathedral and the war.
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. We then made our way in and were lucky enough to visit the tomb of the 3 kings (The Magi). After a whistle stop tour, (spending a long time in a cathedral with 51 children is never a good idea) it was time 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.
Whilst the children, and staff, were drinking their frappuccinos, Mr Beckett made his way to book the Cologne tour train to the zoo. However, imagine his horror when he was told that this could only take a maximum of 50 people! The thought of telling Miss McMaster that she had to walk the 3 miles made him quake in his bones! So he headed across to a hop on hop off bus company. After a little wheeling and dealing and a lot of begging, the bus driver agreed to take us to the zoo. This surprisingly turned out to be a highlight and improvement to the trip. The children were driven through the old town, financial centre, past the medieval wall and down the Rhine to the zoo, all whilst receiving a history lesson through provided earphones. It’s amazing how a challenge like this can become a new addition to our Holland trip!
As we arrived at the zoo, the weather was warming up, with clear skies and sunshine trying to break through - 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, penguins, giraffes and even got to see 2 baby elephants - 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! Mr Massey was in shock at how well they caught the apples, one baboon even managed to catch 4 in its hand and 2 in its mouth - the kids cheered every catch! After that they decided to take part in some after dinner relaxation and grooming, so we hurried the children on!!
From here we headed to see the large cats before going to the gorilla house. Again we were treated to seeing a little baby gorilla - he really was just like the teddies in the gift shop! We then headed to see the bears, meerkats 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! You’d think after all these years she’d know, but they get her every time!
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 Baboons!). It was then straight out again to the bowling arena. This really is an action packed trip and this has not gone unnoticed by Mrs Dawson with her accusing Mr Beckett of torture and driving her to exhaustion!
Once the shoes were sorted the bowling began and it was all fun at the start. However, after around 15 minutes it became very competitive. You would probably thought that this was to do with the scoring in bowling, but this was not the case! What is it with children and vending machines? The bowling balls were left and there was a mass scramble to get their sweets and treats bought! The children were all fantastic and had some great moves both with and without the bowling balls. Some very interesting celebrations and names to go with these! They danced, they ate and they also bowled a little with every child having a ball!
Another fantastic day had by all, including the adults. It really has been a pleasure to have this group away with us this year - a true credit to their families! One last big day of fun tomorrow before our journey home. Enjoy the photographs.
Wednesday 5th June
Another early start this morning. After a lovely breakfast we headed off to Phantasialand for a fun filled day of adventure. We had a new bus driver today called Carlo, what a character he was! As the children entered the bus they were greeted by the Irish National Anthem, unfortunately the children didn’t seem to know the words 🙈This man obviously was a talent spotter and quickly recognised the hidden talents of MC McMaster, calling her up to the front along with chanting children to lead the bus disco! We had Hairspray, ABBA, Queen, Stevie Wonder, The Stranglers (the children had a few choices too) and even entered phantasialand to the ‘Eye of the Tiger’. The weather was looking amazing and our very own sun worshippers Mrs Anderson and Mrs Dawson were very excited - today was going to be a great day!
When we arrived Mr Beckett headed for the tickets. The children were chomping at the bit to get into the park and once the barrier was raised poor Mr Lawther and the attendants were nearly run over!
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 white polo shirts screaming and chanting as they were whizzed around! Then it was off to the Runaway Train. This had been classed as a 'ride for everyone' and therefore most of 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!
As it was 32 degrees, we decided to head to the ‘River Quest’. On reflection this may have been a wrong choice as after a 45minute wait everyone was soaking and this was even before we had got on the ride - PS thank you for packing plenty of deodorant! We finally got on the ride we were all delighted to be soaked with water, with the exception of Mr Massey who managed to get soaked right through to his smalls!
Next it was lunch and this year it was provided. The children were given a ticket for chicken nuggets or noodles. However, the queue seemed to be very short and the teachers were a little confused, until we started to notice children returning with candy apples, candy floss, slush puppies, metre long sweets and even chocolate crepes - just look at some of the pictures!!
After lunch the children got grouped together and we headed off happily. Mr Beckett, Miss McMaster and Mr Massey 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 'Black Mamba’ followed by 'Taron', - the fastest multi-launch roller-coaster in the world!! The children were all very brave and couldn't wait to get on it. Mr Massey on the other hand had had enough after this rollercoaster and followed the children into what he thought was a queue for a Diet Coke. Imagine his horror when he turned the corner and found himself at the front of the ‘Raik’ rollercoaster - needless to say from this point on he was never the same and even seemed very happy to stick to the teacups - the head was down and the sun glasses were out!
Whilst the A group were doing this the other children had some fun of their own and retuned to the swings. They seemed to really enjoy this ride and five goes later, yes FIVE, they finally decided to give Mr Lawther, Mrs Anderson and Mrs Dawson a break. The children just loved the thrills - who would've guessed they were in a B group!! From here they seemed to get a little braver and many faced the ‘Raik’ rollercoaster before meeting up with the rest of the group.
Once together again we went to take on some more of the rides Phantasialand had to offer. We went on 'Fear and Force' and ‘Au chocolatier'. By this stage it was 36 degrees and we had to stop to take on plenty of fluids in preparation for one last big push. As it was her last year, Mrs Dawson decided that she would face her fear and go on the ‘Taron’. She came out totally soaked and this wasn’t even a water ride 😂😂Many of the kids also faced their fears this time round having gained confidence. It was amazing to see their faces totally lit up with pride at the exit, requesting to do it again!
We returned to the bus to be greeted once again by Carlo. He immediately requested Miss McMaster to join him at the front. He then announced to the children would they mind if he kept her to the end of the week. Their faces were a picture as was Miss McMaster’s - I’ve never heard Miss McMaster talk so much about her boyfriend!
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 an ice cream and 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.
Tuesay 4th June
Finally all tucked up in bed after another fantastic day!! History was made today, for the first time in 31 years Mrs Dawson got a full nights sleep without being woken once, on the first night - thank you girls and boys! Mr Massey on the other hand didn’t need woken up, he was up and away for a 14km run before 7am to Hellebeuk. To Mrs Anderson this really did sound like ‘Hell and back!’ The sun was beginning to shine and we could tell that this was going to be a great day!
Breakfast was a real treat! We had eggs, toast, cereal, fruit salads, you name it the kids ate it, and then ate it again and again! The hotel has never gone through so much chocolate spread and chocolate milk in one morning,
The staff are so kind and really are catering for our children!
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 51 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 and even on your person!! We took lots of group photos but then noticed that Mrs Dawson’s had photo bombed every single one! She said she wants to make her presence felt seeing it is her last trip.
From Valkenburg it was onto a very picturesque Drielandenpunt! Once we arrived we had our lunch in the park before heading to the maze. The weather was glorious so the staff showed the children how to get in and sat down for 5 minutes. Now we know there are some water features in this maze, but they are for decoration only. We were rather surprised when the children had escaped from the maze, to find they had bathed in them. Following this our visit to the play park was a rather messy affair! The children had a ball but the base of the play-park is sand. So, you may have a bit of washing to do! Sorry!
Once on the bus it was off to Mosaqua swimming pool. As they entered the building the excitement was palpable!
We took 51 children into the water parks and within seconds 51 children were no where to be seen! So the staff decided- if we can’t beat em we’ll just join them. So in we went!
It was a fantastic day. The sun was splitting the heavens. Mrs Anderson did her lengths while Mr Massey and Mr Beckett raced each other down the slides. Then Miss McMaster showed them how it was done and the competition escalated. They went down slides on back,front,sideways,backwards and sometimes even upside down. Even Mrs Dawson made an attempt but stopped when she did a bellyflop and nearly lost her swimsuit!
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!
We raced home to another stunning dinner. The kids couldn't believe that it was another three course meal!! Once again the hotel staff had to go to the freezer for more ice cream but the children were so well mannered,even the older guests complimented their behaviour
After dinner we walked in the evening sun through the town 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 fortnite 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 seemed a much slower and longer walk back to the hotel.
Once back at the hotel the children had some time to relax in the gardens. But they were so exhausted they all headed up to bed. It’s lovely to see the bonding and friendships that have been formed over their time at Towerview. We really have become a close knit community.
Everything has been so easy going and stress free - let’s hope this continues. A big day ahead tomorrow at Phantasialand. Prepare yourselves for all the pictures of the kids and their healthy snacks!
Monday 3rd June
Greetings from Holland!! All arrived safely and in bed HOPEFULLY sleeping.
What a great first day it has been! After an early start we arrived up at the international airport to some VIP treatment. Mrs Flanagan had rang up ahead of us and used her power of baking to blag us some preferential treatment. The children were whizzed through check in without even having to queue. Luckily enough for Mrs Anderson, the bags didn't even get weighed. People stopped to take notice as Towerview Primary School strolled straight through, wearing their new sunglasses and holiday clothes - the holiday had begun!
A big thank you to Mrs Flanagan and Jean from Swissport, we really were treated like royalty, it's amazing what friends in high places (that can make a lovely chocolate cake) can get you!
Thank you for being so careful with the packing of the children’s hand luggage this year, security was a breeze. Except for Mr Beckett who was sent back 3 times and practically strip searched, thankfully no gloves were needed!
When through, the children were let loose on the shops. Most children went and did the sensible thing by buying a drink and some snacks for the plane. However, some of the others with a more discerning palette took this as an opportunity to head straight for their morning Frappuccino, or iced chocolate. Starbucks didn’t know what had hit them. Many seemed to have lifted the wrong drink as their names didn’t seem to match what was written on their cups - I didn’t remember taking a ‘Boris’ with us!?!
We did warn you that if your children had money, they would spend it! Along with these fancy drinks we had travel pillows, 3 books for the price of 2, a peppa pig book and even a woolly hat with a sheep on it, let’s hope they don’t know something about the weather that we have missed!
The plane journey looked to be going really well until that dreaded announcement, “I’m sorry but the plane will be delayed for up to one hour and you will have to remain in your seats on the runway during this time.” This would’ve been a problem travelling on your own, it would’ve been an even bigger problem if it was just us and the 51 children. However, it just so happened that Strandtown Primary School were travelling on the same flight with 50 children of their own - ear plugs at the ready!
Once in the air the flight went by without any issues or ear aches. The children were all very well behaved and were even able to work out our complex seating arrangements that allowed them to sit beside their friends. It only felt like we had just got up in the air and it was time to get our seatbelts on again and get ready to land. All the pupils 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 and the air hostesses for their exemplary behaviour.
We arrived in Schipol and headed straight for the passport control. This was very busy. However, believe it or not they seem to be allowed to smile in Holland. Mr Lawther seemed impressed with the efficiency of the lady police officer and seemed to want to even stay behind for a chat. I am pleased to report that all the baggage has arrived safely - although not all children seemed to recognise their own bags and it was only after a second trip around the belt that one child realised that the bag with the distinctive orange apple label on it was theirs!
The coach met us at the terminal and we met our bus driver Christian, he is lovely and speaks very good English, thank goodness, as Miss McMaster’s Dutch isn’t great! The weather is dry and warm, let's hope for some sun shine - Mrs Dawson and Mrs Anderson are expecting to top up their tan!!
The children were great travellers! Who ever invented apps and iPads deserves a medal. The drive was relatively long but filled with some great historic and cultural lessons by Dawson Travel Solutions. With this being her final year, she’s planning to go out with a bang!
We stopped for a quick lunch at a roadside cafe and so far have only lost 3 purses and 2 phones. Thank goodness Mr Massey did a quick mine sweep before leaving and all were recovered. We have threatened to charge a fine for any more valuables left unattended!
On another note, don’t worry about the kids pocket money, it’s very safe, in fact it’s in the safe, in school 🙈But no need to panic Mrs Dawson has assured us that her retirement package and new credit card will sufficiently cover it!
Mrs Anderson is now watching the pennies and saved us approximately 20 euro as she was disgusted that we had to pay 1 euro to use the facilities. She oversaw all the children encouraging them to limbo dance underneath- only later did a child inform her that there were free toilets at the other end of the cafe!
When we arrived at the hotel we had some time to settle into our rooms. Within 2 minutes it was made just like home for some of them. Clothes everywhere, sweets and crisp packets stacked up and socks in the sink!
In the evening we were all very well fed and watered at the restaurant. Every child was up more than once and seemed to take naturally to the all you can eat policy, especially when it came to dessert!
After dinner we had a lovely walk around the town to show the children and Mr Massey, the sights of Valkenburg. We returned to the hotel to find the party in full swing with the hotel guests. The children just became part of the entertainment and fitted right in.
A super day had by all, what a great start to our trip! Another big day planned tomorrow with the first of our organised activities. Every child is having a ball.