History coming alive – France day 4

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France 2016 – At the Vimy Ridge memorial

Well it’s our last full day and perhaps one of the most poignant with our visit to Arras to see the Wellington tunnels and then on to Vimy Ridge.  In the tunnels, which were all carved out of the surrounding limestone, we were able to experience what it was like for the WWI allies whilst they were living down there. It was remarkable to think that at one point thousands of men were stationed there waiting to attack the Germans buy extending the tunnels under the front line.

We then drove over to Vimy ridge which is a memorial dedicated to the Canadian troops of WWI. Here we were able to walk through both the English and German trenches. We were all amazed at just how uneven the ground was as it has been untouched since the war and it now just covered with grass and trees. The size of some of the bomb craters was just amazing. Our guides form Kingswood had a fantastic knowledge if the history of the war and the location and the children bombarded them with questions about it. We finished our tour here by walking up to the giant memorial constructed int he 1930’s to commemorate the Canadians lost during this war.

Even though it was such an interesting day, we were all happy to come back to the chateau and unwind for a while. We then prepared for our last evenings entertainment – the disco! For dinner the children were treated to l’escargot and cuisses de grenuilles. That’s snails and frogs legs to us English, but call them what you like only a few brave children were happy to have a taste – most preferring to stick to the much safer chips (me included)!

After dinner we all went to the disco to strut our funky stuff before heading back to our rooms to prepare to leave tomorrow. It has been a really fantastic trip and we have to thank the staff at the Chateau, especially Amy and Reece as well as our driver Jimmy for making the stay so enjoyable.

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The red arrow in the background was painted on during WWII by the French who were sheltering form the bombings of Arras above.

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A map of the Western Front during WWI

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This memorial was built in honour of the 11,000 Canadians who lost their lives and were never found following WWI.

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Here we were learning all about how WWI started and which countries were allied together.

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Down in the British trenches at Vimy Ridge.

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In the German trenches at Vimy Ridge.

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Mmmmm – snails, who knew they were so tasty!

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Are you sure these are frogs legs -they really taste like chicken

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Hurry up and take the photo Mrs Thompson so I dont actually have to eat this!

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Rouen and THAT sweet shop – France day 3

Well day three has almost been and gone. We can hardly believe that we are over half way through our French trip. Today we travelled to Rouen for a day of culture and shopping.

After being dropped in off by Jimmy, our coach driver, we walked over to the beautiful Notre Dame cathedral – but before you start thinking of The Hunchback of Notre Dame stories – this was the Rouen Cathedral. In fact you have probably all seen it in paintings made famous by Claude Monet. Here we learnt all about the architectural history of the building and about how it had huge cracks in the ceiling due to the weight of the “Butter Tower” pulling the building to one side. But don’t worry it has stood on this site since 1302, survived bombing during the war, hit by severe storms and repaired many times so it clearly is not going anywhere. Inside the cathedral we were able to look at the beautiful stain glass windows depicting the life of Joan of Arc – the patron saint of France. Rouen was in fact where she was burned at the stake for heresy by the British and there are numerous statues around the city to commemorate her, which we saw.

Rouen has many beautiful buildings which luckily survived the war. One of the most fascinating was the Ossuary where victims of the Black death or Plague were brought  before being buried. Walking through the town we were also shown the Gros Horlage or Grand Clock which dates back to as early as 1389. Incredibly it only has the hour hand as, unlike us, they were not that bothered about being on time. It did however show us the phases of the moon – shame it was rather cloudy today so we can’t see if it was correct in shown a full moon.

After all that culture what better thing to do than a spot of shopping. And apparently there was no better place to go than Glup’s – the sweet shop of every child’s dreams. Then it was time for a leisurely drive back to the chateau and time for our daily bout of coachioke, where DJ’s Tara B. and Miss H were rocking the house – well the coach actually.

Back at the chateau we had just enough time to drop off the shopping – well sweets – well, what was left of them, and then off for some archery and circus skills.

Strangely enough the children seem to be falling asleep sooner and sooner, so that by the time your read this they will no doubt all be fast asleep. Come back again to find out how we get on tomorrow. Bonsoir readers!

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Flying buttresses of Rouen cathedral – but which ones are the building and which ones are the children? france 2016 day 3 - 1

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In front of the Chapel in the Cathedral.

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If you look closely you can see the bones carved into the wood.

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This years contestants for the Coachioke golden mike award.

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Let’s just forget these circus skills and play pick up sticks….sooooo much easier!

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Mrs Thompson was so right about this gravity thing.

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Aren’t you supposed to have more than one thing to juggle?

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This is a piece of cake, when I get home I’m trying this with the dining plates….

Maid Marion and her merry men taking in some archery practice..

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Here’s looking at you kid…

Dieppe, Cheese and the art of ordering a good crepe – France day 2

Well bonjour, or should I say bonsoir. Here we are already the end of day two and so much more to report. The day started with a trip to the port of Dieppe, which as you history buffs will know played an important part in WWII (more about this in a minute). But for us it also played an important part in learning how to order a crepe, which amazingly we all managed to do, AND we even got what we asked for! (those French lessons with Magali have sure payed off!)

After the crepes, we toured the town, starting with a quick geography/history lesson about the main economic activities of the port of Dieppe. For instance, did you know that it was originally called Djepp (silent d) by the Vikings who originally colonised it – this means deep. We were then able to wonder up and down the high street and take a look in some of the shops there. This was another opportunity to practice our French, and get to grips with the euro. After this we visited the Canadian memorial on the seafront. Our guide for the day told us how 6,000 Canadian landed on this very beach and tragically only 3,000 survived, but it allowed the allies to help plan the eventual D-Day landings.

Down on the beach it was remarkable how like Brighton beach it was. And the children especially enjoyed a good game of seeing if they could throw the stones back over the other side.

A quick trip back to the chateau to drop off bags and then on to the cheese farm. Here we were instructed (in French!) in the art of making cheese, so be prepared for your children to come back and insist on having a go – it seemed so easy! But don’t worry if they don’t get the hang of it, as in the mean time they were all able to purchase some of the Neufchatel and you will be able to sample for yourselves just how delicious it was. We were then able to see the “vache” ( that’s cows Miss Haynes – she is working on her French) from which the milk came from. And even better than that some of the veau (calves), some of which were only a day old.

Back at the chateau we all wrote postcards home; Mrs Hayward your instructions on postcard writing for Mr Treweke came in handy  and he has managed to put the stamps all on the correct side! We were then able to have a quick play in the fading sunshine before another fine dinning experience.

Our evening activity today involved playing some French playground games, some of which are remarkably similar to ones we play in England. But now the evening has drawn to an end and its showers and bedtime for a weary bunch of travellers.

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Girls looking tres chic!


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MMmfff – said the boys all sucking their lollies….(thats hello by the way!)

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It was all just too much excitement for some!

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Just a few more stones to go and we will have all the beach back in Brighton where it belongs!

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You have to do WHAT to get the milk out?


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Mmmmm cheeeeese.

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You are going to pass that on ……?

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Stop hogging the ball Mr Treweke!

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France 2016

Bonjour London! Well here we are in France, just north-east of Dieppe – at Le Chateau de Chanteraine  to be precise. Fantastically lucky with the weather, we had bright sunshine all the way to the channel tunnel. Jimmy, our coach driver, assured us he has done this trip many times and this proved to be the case with his seamless driving onto the train. Some children were, however rather disappointed not to see any fish whilst travelling under the channel, but that was soon solved by a visit to Nausicaa in Boulogne. Here we were able to see many different species of aquatic creatures, and even got to touch a few!

After saying our farewells to the penguins we hopped back on the coach for the final leg of the journey to the chateau. To get us in the ‘holiday’ mood Miss Haynes entertained us with some ‘coacheoki’ (Sorry Mr Duffy, we have stolen your idea!). Once we arrived we were given a warm welcome by our group leader and he gave us a tour of the facilities. A quick bed making session, (I have never made so many beds said a weary Mrs Thompson!) we headed out to the dining room for our first meal. This was followed by our evening activity.

Tonight we were entertained with the ‘Scrap heap challenge”. In teams we had to create a superhero costume for a superhero of our making. The children were very creative with their ideas and came up with some very interesting skills for their heros! Even the staff joined in. See if you can guess from the pictures below which one is Mr Treweke!

As this is being typed up the children are preparing for bed and the first full day of their French trip – come back tomorrow and see what we get up to next!

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Making new friends with the local wildlife.

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Looking very cool there boys.

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Dinner is served  – a four course meal no less!

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Guess which one of these two is Mr Treweke?

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Of course you will look fabulous in this – it’s what everyone is wearing in Paris this season!

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Cookery Club

This week we have been looking at bread from all around the world and how to make it.

We are looking forward to making our own bread next week and cant wait to take it home to give our families a taste.

Cookery club will be on Thursday’s from 3.45-4.45.