When we eventually arrived in east London it was straight to Whitechapel for our afternoon guided ‘Jack the Ripper’ walking tour. It was a relief to be off the coach and with a little trepidation at what we were about to learn we set off round the back streets of Whitechapel to visit the sites where Jack’s victims met their grisly end. The tour guides were fantastically graphic in their descriptions of how each victim died but they also offered us some insightful glimpses into how London would have looked at the end of the nineteenth century. The photographs of the victims were particularly appreciated by the more fear-hardy members of the group.
It was then back on the coach to travel up to North London; Watford to be precise. We were all absolutely starving because everybody had eaten their packed lunch by 8 o’clock that morning so the ‘all you can eat’ buffet in Pizza Hut went down a treat! Mr Starr was aiming to eat at least 20 slices of Pepperoni in twenty minutes, a feat easily achieved incidentally, but I think he had some stiff competition from some of the boys.
Our evening excursion beckoned and it was a short journey to the Warner Bros. Harry Potter Studios for our tour there. I was visibly shaking with excitement as I’m a HUGE Harry Potter fan along with several other pupils. The tour began at the large Hogwarts’ doors that were firmly shut! The tour guide asked if there was anybody who was enjoying a birthday and all MCHS’s pupils shouted, “Yes, Mrs Halhead!” So I was selected to open the doors that led into the Great Hall. It was a magical moment for me and I almost cried (there’s a surprise), especially since my birthday is actually in January!
The pupils all enjoyed the chance to fly on a broomstick over London, fly a magical car over the Hogwarts Express, take their picture outside the Dursley’s front door and practise some spells using wands. All eight Harry Potter films were made here and the pupils were able to look at the original film sets, all the animatronic creatures, walk down Diagon Alley, see costumes, props, in fact anything and everything to do with the films.
We unfortunately had to leave, much to Mrs Hargreaves’s disgust, and we finally arrived at our new home for two nights, the Meininger Hotel for a much needed night’s sleep.
Friday morning and we made an early start. After breakfast we left to visit the Natural History Museum which is literally situated opposite to the hotel. This beautiful building houses thousands of exhibits of the natural world and pupils were all able to see a blue whale built to scale, lots of dinosaurs and much much more!
It was then onwards to the Embankment where pupils enjoyed a flight on the London Eye where fantastic views across London were enjoyed by all.
The London Dungeons is just a stone throw’s away from the Eye and as we queued at the entrance the tension amongst some in the group began to grow. It was dark, smelly and terrifying as we entered in huddled groups, first experiencing a boat ride to Traitor’s Gate at the Tower of London to meet Henry Vlll who was after our heads. We then squealed as plague victims sneezed on us and rats scurried around our feet. Next we learnt about how poor Guy Fawkes was tortured and then we went on to meet Sweeney Todd who was offering to give the boys a ‘close shave’! There was so much to see and scream at in the Dungeons; it was almost a relief to end our visit with an experience called ‘Drop Dead’’, a ride that allows you to experience the Newgate Gallows. Not all partook in the experience, notably Ms Green, and I thought she wasn’t scared of anything!
It was then back to the hotel for a quick change into our gladrags for our evening entertainment. We first enjoyed a meal at Park Lane’s Hard Rock Cafe and then it was off to the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Mr Parker was in his element. All in all, it was a good day!
Our final day in London began with an informative and interesting trip to the Cabinet War Rooms. This underground bunker where Winston Churchill led Britain from in the Second World War was left virtually intact after the war in 1945 to be re-opened to the public in the 1980s.
Our final item on the trip’s itinerary was possibly the most anticipated…shopping on Oxford Street for a whole three hours! Goodness knows how much money was spent but Mrs Hill got some bargains in Primark!
Our journey home allowed us to watch a Harry Potter film and enjoy a music quiz comprised by Mr Parker. Prizes were awarded just before we saw signs on the motorway for Lancaster. Hurray! I hope everybody had a good trip, I certainly did!