After a wonderful stay in London, with beautiful weather and such welcoming hosts, I looked forward to sharing the experience. But time passes quickly and so it did back in London, a week that was much too short.
We arrived on a Saturday (20th of September) and were on our own so we could spend most of the weekend leisurely. Luckily it was the weekend of "Open House London" so we were able to see a few public buildings inside-out. This urged me to visit the BBC where I enjoyed a guided tour (much recommended) while Thorunn went to the Royal Art Conservatory and did a sketch or two in the magnificent historical building.
On Monday we were picked up by Shaun and enjoyed a relaxed morning cup on the Collingham balcony along with Sandra and Jennifer, from Ireland, where we went through the plan for the week with Shaun and Kim. The idea was to have me and Thorunn teaching at Collingham and Chelsea Westminister on Tuesday and Wednesday while Sandra and Jennifer were to be located at Brompton and St. Mary´s. In many ways, these two departments resembled ours at home more than the other two (with more behaviour problems, we were told, and less physical illnesses). Presumably it was other way around for Sandra and Jennifer. But the first day was spent getting a glimpse of all locations, and Kim happily drove us there, through the cramped streets of London. We got to know all of the departments and felt everywhere at ease by the generous and welcoming staff. After the long but rewarding day I remember walking the streets of London with Shaun and was guided effortlessly like a floating vessel through the different neighborhoods and I realized how little I had actually seen of London on my previous visits and how much bigger and more splendid the city is than I had ever imagined. It surely is like many cities in one, each with its own distinct character.
Our two "working" days at Collingham (Tuesday) and Chelsea Westminister (Wednesday) started with a shock. The hospital school had just learned that it was to be inpsected by the ofsted on Wednesday and Thursday. I had never heard the word before and thought everyone was talking about the "upset", judging by the nervous reaction by everyone. I later learned that it was actually a dead serious thing that takes place only every three years or so, judgement day, with only a day´s notice. With the 25th anniversary looming ahead as well, this is not what anyone wished for, but for us, the visitors from Iceland, it made the stay even more memorable. Regrettably, though, the focus shifted a bit, but everything worked out fine. Thorunn and I went through our projects, showing the kids images from Iceland, focusing on the current volcanic eruption. We also did our separate Comenius-related things. Thorunn showed the kids how to make jam from a mixture of berries while I played a geography game with the kids which highlighted the many natural attractions in Iceland. I think the kids really enjoyed it. Those two days also included events such as going along with the kids at Collingham to a horseback riding centre as well as listening to an interesting inset about "The mantle of the expert". We also gave our own presentations about Iceland and our school back home, along with the Irish. Then, inevitably, the most enjoyable part was a cozy evening downtown in a place called "Bistro". All in all, two very eventful days.
Thursday was going to be very different. With most of the "work" behind we had a very easy day ahead of us and went as a group (the Comenius visitors, Kim, Shaun and a number of students) on a school trip to the outskirts of London - way beyond the city centre - to a botanic garden called Wisley. With the beautiful weather we were bound for pure pleasure. The most striking thing for us Icelanders was the enormous size of the trees as well as the variety of the plants. Oh, and I almost forgot the huge fish in the pond that looked quite menacing compared to the ducks swimming innocently only inches away.
But the highlight of the botanical garden for us was the indoor exhibition in the "crystal palace". The exhibition detailed the many characteristics as well as the benefits of roots, all kinds of roots. From a teacher´s point of view, the exhibition was brilliant, and I´m sure many of the photos taken will be used in our school in our future Comenius projects. After this enjoyable stay we went further to a horticultural garden where we could "weigh and pay" as they said. We picked our own fruit or vegetables and I personally went for the cauliflower and nibbled on it on the way back, much to the surprise of the students (they had never ever tasted it raw).
The last day, which was Friday, happened to be the school´s 25th anniversary and was to be celebrated in the evening in the middle of Hyde Park (what a lovely location for a party). The relief of having successfully gone through the inspection was palpable and it was such a privilege to be part of such an important day and get a glimpse of the school´s history. The traffic and the city lights were seemed so far away for a few precious hours. Indeed, they also felt quite distant that same morning when we embarked on the solar boat on the Serpentine (also in Hyde Park) and glided silently across the lake. Both events were very fitting as a finale, which also gave us a free afternoon between the events to walk the streets of London on our own.
Now that we´re home we enjoy looking back, showing the kids back home photos of London and, from time to time, remember the great times we had and the wonderful company of all of the staff. Thank you all for this great week! We look forward to seeing you all again soon.
Thorsteinn and Thorunn
Students, staff and our Comenius visitors from Ireland and Iceland celebrated the 25th year of our school with a boat trip aboard the solar powered Solarshuttle on the Serpentine lake in Hyde Park.
We've posted more photos of the trip on our school website here: http://www.cchs.org.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1300:25th-celebrations-on-the-solarshuttle&catid=11:news&Itemid=448
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