By the time we all arrived in the dining hall at 7:15, sleep had been properly rubbed out of the eyes of all the children and staff, and after we finished our light breakfast of cereal, bacon and toast - everyone sang "Happy Birthday" to Adyl who turned eleven yesterday!
There were balloons, an oversized birthday card signed by all the students and staff, and as a special treat the birthday boy had the privilege of sitting with all the teachers at breakfast!
We said goodbye to the kitchen staff, and they wished us a safe trip to London...which is where we arrived two hours later by coach. First on our list was the river Thames, and from where we stood on the bank we had a fantastic view of the 'London Eye', taking pictures with all the children and their trip leaders.
In Emily and Lisa's team, there were six lovely young ladies who enjoyed the tour around the sights, and got to experience the London shopping experience!
All the groups along with all their leaders made their way through the busy streets of London, getting a look at Big Ben, the London Eye, Buckingham Palace and even had a chance to see the changing of the guards ceremony!
By noon, the kids were in the midst of doing something that most people around the world only have the chance to dream about...they were experiencing London, England!
With our feet to the ground, one leader in front of their group and one in the back, some journry on through St. James Park to see the beautiful pond, and ducks and pelicans that graced the green dew, while others ventured on to Oxford Street and others to Trafalgar Square.
Ferran, a 15 year old boy from Spain, said the square was his favorite sight of the day, because there were many statues and it had the Olympic "count down" clock!
At 13:30, everyone was at Covent Garden, where we took some photos, did a little souvenir shopping, and admired the street show that was going on...Peter and Jamie, two of our group leaders, took their boys to the famous "Hamley's" toy shop on Regent street.
Some of the boys later recounted that this was their favorite part of the day, which included a toy monkey that would dance when one clapped their hands. Antoine, 13 years old from Paris, France, said his favorite part of the day was going to the M&M world - which, truthfully, some members of staff enjoyed just as much!
Antoine also added that he bought some M&Ms. When asked how much, he answered, "Around 300 grams." :) Filip, 12 years old from Romania, while inside the fantastical world of M&Ms had an interesting encounter with a magician who had been walking around showing kids magic tricks.
Apparently Filip showed the magician one of his own, and left him wondering how the 12 year old had done it!
While Jamie and Peter's group were off investigating the London Eye and other sights, Lindsey, Ryan and Steve's group of kids were busy playing games and listening to music at HMV, a busy place for kids and adults alike, where one can purchase music and video games - and also play at the store! Umut, 12 years old from Istanbul, Turkey, said his favorite part of the day was souvenir shopping...which, as consensus has it, was the highlight of most all the kids' day!
Although the rain came down quite heavily at some point, it didn't dampen the spirits of everyone on the trip! We trudged on, stomping through puddles, passing hundreds of other tourists, and dozens of different languages until we reached our final destination of the day: Pizza Hut!
The kids were treated by XUK English to a buffet dinner which included many different types of pizza, salad, and soda pop!
There were full tummies and tired feet by the time we reached the coach which took us back to Ipswich safely for the evening. But, the most important thing we took back with us were memories that we'll have with us always!