On the Countdown Toward Adventure
Today we are down to 24 days until the flight to London. That’s just three and a half weeks. I’ve been counting down toward this adventure for more than two years; at the beginning of this school year, I posted the number of days on the chalkboard at the front of my classroom, and I’ve been knocking the days down one by one every since. (One of the boys going on the trip comes in and checks the number every afternoon: I guess he’s as excited as I am.)
One of the benefits of working in the room next door to my friend Karen is that she is the educational-trip-organizing queen. With her, over the past ten years, I’ve gone to Paris twice, to Scotland, to England. On that first school trip to London, in 2001, we took a whole slew of people, including my way-cool sister Susie, her daughter Kate, and my oldest, Molly. This time around, there are 19 of us going; Susie’s coming again, and this spring, the younger heathens are along for the ride. Neither Ben nor Rosalie has ever been outside of the country save to Canada; I’m beside myself with excitement that they’re coming to London, finally, with me. Perhaps they’ll come away understanding the sort of Anglophile I am; perhaps they’ll become Anglophiles themselves. Right now, both seem rather blasé about the whole deal.
The trip is booked through Explorica, one of two educational travel companies headquartered in Boston; ten years ago, Karen worked through the other, EF Tours. Both companies pretty much line the trips up the same way, going to the same historic and cultural sites. While we’re in the UK, we’ll spend a couple of days in London, then a couple of days in major sight-seeing ports of call, such as Stratford-upon-Avon and Shottery (a nod toward people like me,
who tell students that William Shakespeare was our prom date); Bath; Warwick (the favorite show-castle of school-aged kids); Stonehenge (Avebury is cooler, but tell that to educational tour companies!); and Salisbury. Susie and I, of course, have been to all these places. When my sister looked at the itinerary, she expressed a wish to see again some of the other places from ten years previously: Glastonbury, perhaps? Or Leeds Castle? Still, there are new sites to explore. We’ll be going to Windsor Castle, which I recommended to Karen as a place of student interest, having investigated it on my own a couple of years ago. All the rage on these educational excursions lately are the titillating walking tours after dark: in Edinburgh five years ago our group members experienced an “Edinburgh Ghost Tour”; corny but fun. This time around, in London, there’s a “Jack the Ripper” walk. I have a suspicion that Ben will be darkly amused by that one. I’m not so sure about Rosalie.
My sister and I have talked about some things not on the official program. Since there is frequently free time built into the student tours, we were considering going up on the London Eye on the last flight of the evening one day; in 2001 we did that two nights running–either my sister or niece (I can’t remember which) took a cool picture from the top of the loop, but lost it, and now Susie has vowed to take another one. There’s the possibility of a trip to the theater; on the last school trip to London, the entire crew had noseblood seats at Les Miserables, and both my sister and I cried at the end. I guess we’ll have to see what’s on, though I’ve been told by a boy coming with us this time (who has apparently checked these things out already) that Mary Poppins is quite sold out.
Of course, for the adults on the trip, there are always pubs…and ten years ago in Bath, Susie and I found a lovely tea room which I would like to revisit…
Still, the most exciting part of this particular jaunt is getting to be with Ben and Rosalie when they see everything for the first time. Rosalie is a bit nervous about the plane; Ben could care less. Rosalie and I have been, already, scoping out the stores for travel sizes of everything, and she has laid claim to my travel hair dryer. Ben, strangely, has begun to consider what clothes he would need for a foreign country–this from a boy who has difficulty thinking ahead to what clothes he’d need for tomorrow. Rosalie has shown the itinerary to some of her favorite teachers. Ben is worried about his prospective roommates. It has occurred to me that, because neither of them has been immersed in the same kind of reading material I lived with at that age,they have no imaginative grasp of the places we’re going, the things that we’ll see. They’ll be surprised. I hope it’ll be wonderful. I shall take pictures of them at everything, and they will be disgusted with me.
24 days. Did I tell you I’m excited?
The school trip participants will be flying home on Saturday, 23 April. I’m staying one day longer, until the 24th, in order that I might go to see the Oysterband, headlining on the Saturday night at the Gosport & Fareham Easter Festival. Ironically, I saw them last April in Nova Scotia, precisely because I was wondering if they’d be performing while we were in England (even then, I was thinking way way ahead)–and I found them much closer to home then instead. I am psyched.
Also ironically, the headline act at the Gosport & Fareham Easter Festival on Sunday night the 24th of April is the Saw Doctors. What are the chances? Unfortunately, I have to be back to school on Monday, 25 April at 7:30 a.m. Rats to that.