Friday 18th-Monday 21st April 2014.
Arrival at Penllergaer ready for a 7.15am departure. A great start as all are on time. Lloyd Dudley-Jones wins the award as last to arrive. Everyone appears to be in good spirits.
Samer Makahleh sets the fashion with his corn braided hair, while Mr Mason ensures that our opponents will realise we mean business with his ‘skinhead’ cut.
A quick photo opportunity and we depart on time. We could spot some parental tears from the bus-obviously tears of joy at the thought that they would have 3 days peace and quiet.
On the bus, Will Griffiths introduced the year 10 squad to the card game ‘Mafia’. This helped the journey to pass more quickly, which was good news because our relief driver didn’t know how to operate the air conditioning. The tour track suit bottoms weren’t designed for these temperatures!!!
We arrive at Reading services in good time at 10 past 10 and have a 30 minute stop.
Six lads arrive back late; Nick Williams, Lloyd Dudley-Jones, Lewis Hyatt, David Carpanini, Joe Whitehorn and Samer Makahleh-bus cleaning beckons for them later on.
At Reading our driver for the weekend, Jeff, takes over. He brings good news-he can fix the air conditioning and bad news-we can expect a 2 hour delay at the tunnel.
We make good time to the M25, but as we drive over it we can see why it’s called ‘Britain’s largest car park’ It looks like the delays start here.
The first major issue is that the boys have ‘ants in their pants’ and are standing up on the bus. In the UK this will lead to a £60 fine. In Europe it can be as much as 2,000 euros. Mr Thomas warns the group.
The traffic delay on the M25 is only short lived and after about 20 minutes it clears and we make good time and arrive in Folkestone at 1.15pm. We stop for half an hour at ‘Stop 24’ the pre tunnel services. The six late arrivals from our first stop stay behind and clean the bus for 5 minutes. KFC and Subway do good business and we
return to the bus by 1.50pm-all are on time.
It’s a 10 minute journey to the tunnel terminus. Jeff books us in and we are able to get on a train that leaves at 3.50pm which is half an hour before our booking so our worries about a delay are unfounded.
We have 50 minutes to wait in the terminus and are on the train by 3.30pm.
We depart a couple of minutes early and arrive in Calais 25 minutes later. During the journey many of the boys befriend a group of French students in the next carriage-luckily the French students speak good English.
We are off the train by 4.25pm and move our clocks forward an hour. Jeff tells us we have a 2½ to 3 hour journey to the hotel and should be there by 8.30pm.
We make good time as we travel through north eastern France and Belgium and stop for 15 minutes at Gent services. Again the group are well disciplined and all back on time. Jeff tells us we are on target to arrive on time.
We hit traffic at Antwerp that holds us up for half an hour and arrive at the hotel at just before 10.00pm. We check in quickly and on the other side of the road is a Mcdonalds restaurant. It’s like home from home. Cases are left in the rooms and we walk across for tea!!!!!
The lads say their thanks to Mr Thomas and Mr Ayre for their efforts in organising the tour. It has been a great success both on and off the field and the players have responded positively to Mr Thomas’s message to put the group first and their own needs second.
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