GCSE Residential - London, Rock and Observation

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This year’s twenty strong GCSE group spent two great days in London from October 18th to 19th. We visited the National Theatre for a backstage tour, Fire & Stone Pizza restaurant in Covent Garden for food, ‘The School of Rock’ musical for culture, the Tower of London for history, and the Royal Observatory in Greenwich for science.

So how did it all go?

I can honestly say that this was a great success, one of the most interesting and enjoyable variety of attractions I’ve seen on a residential, and therefore a fantastic two days all round.

Our trip started with a musical backdrop of grime and rap on the two-hour coach trip to London, which I enjoyed but which was not to the taste of all of the supervisors. My personal highlight was ‘Rap God –Eminem’, where all from the front of the bus to the back nodded along in rhythm! The first stop on the trip was the National Theatre, where we enjoyed a backstage tour that included being able to play with a severed head prop, seeing one of the models from War Horse and learn important facts like that our peripheral vision is 118 degrees. Our tour photographer Tabitha went to work and took some great pictures as well.

A short (in distance) but long (in time) journey to our hotel in Bloomsbury followed. We managed to get checked in despite a number of people not knowing their address or postcode. How do they cope with everyday life? The hotel was a definite improvement on previous years and all went well with everyone happy with their roommates. Later on we all met and set out on the simple five minute walk to the Pizza restaurant, but this turned into a forty minute meander as we decided to take in some of the sights of undiscovered London. Some of the students thought I had got lost, but it was all part of the master-plan (maybe). The musical ‘School of Rock’ was awesome, as all the great reviews below prove:

“The show got started and some first thoughts were “hmmmn, this is a bit odd”, but after that questionable first song we were all drawn in by the story-line, and I’m sure everyone laughed. The singing was amazing and one of the girls in particular had an angelic voice”. - Florence.

“The School of Rock featured extremely talented young people, showcasing their unique abilities and talents, which added to the play’s central theme; fulfilling your potential”. – Max.

“The School of Rock was good with bare jokes, the keyboarder was awesome and it was great to be reminded that ten year olds can have that much talent”. – Alex.

We had a much shorter walk back to the hotel and everyone went ‘straight to bed’ as we had another busy day planned for the next day.

After breakfast we set out across London by tube, which was an excellent way to meet people going about their normal working day - well, it had to be as we were all crammed into one carriage. We then ‘did’ the Tower of London, without one of the supervisors who was called back to MPW (the perils of being important!). Of course we saw all the usual sights of the Tower, the Crown Jewels, the Beefeaters, the ravens etc. There were also re-enactments that brought the history to life and gave a more interactive feel to the event. From the Tower, we took a boat along the Thames to Greenwich. The audio commentary gave us all an insight into some of the changes of buildings and uses along the river. One pub in particular with a noose outside had a grizzly past. In former times it was a meeting place for sailors, smugglers and others of a criminal disposition. According to legend, criminals would be tied up to the posts at low tide and left there to drown when the tide came in… a bit creepy, but hey! History!

In Greenwich, we visited the Royal Observatory with great photo opportunities around the Meridian Line and the different exhibitions there. The final organised event was probably the favourite for most people – the ‘Meet the Neighbours’ planetarium show. This consisted of lying back in a very comfortable seat and watching the sky whilst listening to a fascinating commentary. Who knew there is a volcano on Jupiter the size of the UK?

Finally, we took the coach back to Cambridge, and with most people feeling the strain the mood was a little more serene and the music reflected this, with S Club 7 making a welcome appearance on the soundtrack.

We also had a team competition running throughout the two days and following the count of all the points collected, the close winners were team Ravenclaw (consisting of Max, Reuben, Dylan, Ken, Oscar and Peter) by a single point only! Close, but deserved.

It will be difficult to better this trip next year! But we all do like a challenge.