Day 2: Sunday July 21st 2019
Day 2 begins with the overnight flight and we’re straight in with an absolute corker from Cameron Clayfield – “Sir, are we going to be using the same buses in South Africa and Australia that took us to Heathrow?” It would seem Cameron left his common sense behind at Heathrow airport!
After a few giggles, everyone settles into the flight and food is served – a choice of spicy chicken with vegetables or pasta with mascarpone sauce. No pressure, British Airways, but we have Dr Michael Lewis, Doctorate of Food and Nutrition on board with us-he has high expectations! The dishes were met with his, and the tour party’s, approval. Unfortunately, this was not to be the case for breakfast. Mr Lewis was left somewhat deflated with his full English, as the “cube of scrambled egg” simply didn’t work for him. So close, BA, so close!
The night was not without incident, courtesy of Miss Vaughan, whom if it weren’t for the diplomatic skills of (surprisingly) Mr Cullen, may well have started World War III after reclining her seat back and causing the lady behind to spill red wine everywhere. Needless to say, she was not impressed.
We prepare for landing at 9:30am SA time and as we approach Cape Town from the south west there is not a cloud in the sky. Such fantastic views first of the bays and the beaches, followed by the iconic Table Mountain on our left and the city below. The realisation that we had finally arrived in South Africa had hit, and the excitement grew around the plane.
We land safely – breeze through customs, with only a cursory glance at our Affidavit – Raffi is very relieved-mum back home can rest soundly as we have asked the travel company to contact the airlines ahead of all future flights.
We reclaim our cases at baggage and meet Sean Kraft our rep, who takes us to our buses where we meet our drivers Nico and Clive for the next 3 days. They suggest we go straight up Signal Hill as the traffic in the evening would make it almost impossible to get up and down safely.
It’s a 20 minute drive of beautiful scenery – clear blue sky and shimmering waters. Upon arrival, we all gather round as a group at the top of Signal Hill. It’s a special day for a certain young lady – Chloe Thomas is 18 today! Of course, such a special day deserves a special outfit, and so she is handed a stunning pink t-shirt that says “It’s My Birthday” and features a colourful unicorn – any stylish 18 year old would wear it with pride. For some reason, Chloe wasn’t convinced. She was presented with a card from the group and serenaded with a beautiful rendition of ‘Happy Birthday.’ A day she’ll undoubtedly never forget.
Views explored and selfies taken, we head back to the buses. On bus 2, Mr Thomas enquired as to why we went straight to Signal Hill – a change to our original itinerary. Apparently, he had agreed with some chap called Norman, our group leader, that this was the best plan! Dean ‘Norman’ Mason confirmed this when the whole party later re-grouped. A new nickname is born!
Back to the V and A Waterfront for some much need lunch – Mr Lewis and Miss Preuss are getting hangry! Staff enjoy a sumptuous meal at the Grill House – the best steak Mr Cullen has ever eaten, while Mrs O’Sullivan, Miss Preuss and Mr Lewis try the ostrich. In contrast, the majority of students make the most of their once in a life-time trip to South Africa and dine at the local McDonalds.
Next up, the helicopter ride. We are to fly in groups of 3, 4 and 6. It’s a fantastic experience with breath-taking views of the harbour and the coastline. The weather couldn’t have been better and everyone seems to enjoy, apart from Mr Lewis, Mr Cullen and Mrs O’Sullivan who sit in silence, holding on for dear life for the entire flight. As quoted by Mr Lewis, “helicopter ride done, will not be rushing to do it again!”
Bus 1 were the first to fly and are all finished by 4:00pm. They make their way back to the hotel – we are all in desperate need of a shower and freshen up.
We arrange a meet at 6:55 in the foyer as we are travelling to the Greek Fisherman restaurant at the V and A Waterfront for 7:30pm. But first, nominations for Donkey of the Day! They are:
1. Miss Morgans – for potentially seeing Mr Mason off with her non-gluten free sausage!
2. Leon Bevan – for his little incident coming through security with litre bottles of shampoo and sun cream!
3. Charlie Catto – for losing his headphones, buying a new set and then subsequently losing them, and then finding the original set.
4. Cameron Clayfield – for thinking we could use the same coaches in South Africa and Australia. Clearly had a fantastic Geography teacher.
5. Mr Mason – for leaving 8 passports behind on the bus at Heathrow airport.
And the award goes to……Mr Mason! Mr Thomas presents him with the renowned Donkey of the Day t-shirt and Mr Mason wears it for the evening.
It’s nice to be eating together. As a staff we have been really impressed with how our young people have adapted to the challenges faced so far and more importantly with how well behaved and respectful they have been. There’s a long way to go and a lot of really tough challenges in front of us, but the early signs are very promising.
We board the coaches on time and transfer to the restaurant. Our drivers Nico and Colin have been really accommodating so we invite them along too. They are glad to join us.
The staff greet us when we arrive and there is an area set aside for us. We enjoy a three course meal; a starter of Calamari, it received mixed reviews from the students, but not a lot was wasted as ‘Master Chef’ Mr Lewis tucked in heartily to any leftovers.
The main meal was a choice of Line Fish, Sirloin Steak in mushroom sauce or Chicken Soulvaki which was a marinated chicken and vegetable skewer. The sweet was Baklava (an almond and syrup pastry) and ice cream.
We also purchase two soft drinks each for the students from the central tour fund.
Most of the group have had enough at the end of the main course and rather than wait for sweet opted to spend the last 30 minutes in the mall.
Gwyr are in Cape Town at the same time and are having a meal in a restaurant close by. Mr Lewis pops in to say hello and their staff come back to see us a little later. It was nice to see good friends from our neighbours. They were having a great time and no doubt their parents will be forever grateful to the staff who are giving their young people such a great opportunity.
We are back on the buses by 9.30pm-apart from Reid Davies and Will Griffiths who were a minute late-Mr Mason’s watch doesn’t lie-ask Dr Hughes! Reid and Will enjoyed the journey home in the company of the staff at the front of the bus!! We are back at the hotel by 10pm and set a 10.45pm curfew for all to be in their rooms.
Some of the group spot the hotel’s outdoor pool and despite the chilly conditions the majority of the students, supervised by Mr Thomas changed into their swimming costumes and spend half an hour expending some excess energy.
Two issues arise; Brianna Richards has realised that she had left her ipad on the plane. We told her we would contact the BA office in the morning to see if it had been handed in.
Things were going from bad to worse for Cameron Clayfield. He couldn’t open the lock on his case-no problem, he’d smash the lock off using the litter bin in the room. In the process he managed to destroy significant parts of the case, but the lock remained intact. In his frustration he threw the bin at the case and it bounced off and hit him in the head!
At the 10.45pm room check all are safely in their rooms apart from one boy. He is 10 minutes late and was in one of the girls rooms’-that’s two mistakes. I think he may be enjoying the company of the staff at some point tomorrow.
The staff stay up until around midnight when all is quiet. Although when we do a random check at 11.30pm one girl is out of her room-she may join the boy for a while tomorrow.
I view the video that Mr Meredith has uploaded onto the school website of the helicopter trips-it’s a great watch and gives a good indication of the experience we had.
Another big day tomorrow-Robben Island in the morning the site of Nelson Mandela’s incarceration, followed by the cheetah sanctuary in the afternoon. We then meet up with the billets from Parel Valei and at some point Mr Thomas will have to fit in the second ‘Donkey of the Day’ vote-it will be good to be relieved of the shirt.
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