We proceed to Gate B42 at 8.50pm. It’s a 15 minute journey from departures although most of it is on conveyor belts if you prefer.
When we arrive-a major calamity. The flight attendant checks our seat numbers, mine was SBY. “You haven’t got a seat,” he said “You’re on standby.” Obviously, I thought he was joking. “No, I’m not” he affirmed, “You had better go to the desk and see if you can arrange a seat.
As I walk sheepishly, (because I still think it’s a wind-up) towards the desk, I look back to see ‘fist pumps’ and ‘high fives’ everywhere as the lads (and staff!!) think that Mr Mason may not be allowed to travel. Those expectations are raised when it’s confirmed that the flight attendant was telling the truth. However, hopes are dashed as all is sorted quickly and a seat is found for me. Mr Thomas hurriedly puts the wine list away as I am allocated seat 52A-a window seat. Miss Smitham is next to me and poor Tiffany Thomas is next to her. Imagine having to be sat next to two teachers for the next 12 hours.
Max Treharne nearly caused the evacuation of the whole of the airport, which given the delicate nature of our finances after Brexit could have sent the economy spiralling into decline, when he decided to see if the fire alarms in the airport worked on the same basis as the ones in school. In school if you lift the outer casing up they don’t go off until you break the glass. His experiment proved conclusively that the alarms are not the same as the ones we have in school as the alarm is triggered. Luckily an alert security guard was able to stop it immediately and avert a possible major incident.
Our group is the first to be called and we are all seated on the plane by 9.30pm. We taxi to the runway at just after 10pm and prepare for take off, a little late, at 10.25pm.
A British Airways flight takes off before us, and then just over a minute later, our engines fire up, we burst down the runway and are quickly in the air. Ollie Quick is a first time flier and I ask him later how it had been, “I was a little nervous, but I absolutely loved it.”
With a clear night, we have fantastic views of suburban London at night. We reach cruising altitude, 11,000 metres and level off. A flight attendant asks me the age of our students. I tell her that they are not allowed to drink alcohol and she left with a knowing smile.
The drinks come around and we refresh ourselves with soft drinks and peanuts-the flight attendant returns and tells me “Just to let you know, one of your students asked for wine.” He wasn’t served it but I’ll have to find out later who it was.
Supper is served; starter is Smoked Salmon and potato salad, main course is a choice of chicken in tomato sauce and noodles or lamb curry, dessert is apple and caramel cream dome. I, like most, opt for the curry. It’s very tasty,
The cabin lights dim at just after midnight UK time. The flight map shows that we are over Romania and have just over 10 and a half flying hours to go with an ETA of 6pm in Singapore-we are not going to see much of Wednesday July 20th.
The group tries to get some rest and I get surprisingly more than usual, I wake several times and following our progress on the route map I could see I woke over the Black Sea, the Caspian Sea and central India. Each time I wake, all is quiet and it appears that most are able to get some sleep.
At about 7.15am UK time, I’m fully awake and feeling surprisingly refreshed relative to the previous long haul flights I had been on. The rest of our group are quiet and it looks like they may have been able to get a decent amount of sleep.
At 8.00am UK time (3pm Singapore time), the cabin lights come on and we are over the middle of the Indian Ocean.
Poor Tiffany Thomas-not only has she been lumbered with sitting next to Miss Smitham and myself, but the air conditioning in the plane means it’s quite cold inside the cabin. We arrange another blanket and half an hour later, when breakfast comes around, she is warmed up and has a smile upon her face again.
Breakfast is really appetising; fruit salad, followed by chicken and rice or scrambled egg and tomato, sausage, mush rooms and sautéed potatoes, bread roll and a raspberry yoghurt.
Tiffany Thomas, Steffan Tyrrell, Chloe Watkins, Joe Bright and Max Treharne all gave breakfast the ‘thumbs up’ well done Singapore Airlines.
On the flight map we are approaching Malaysia and have 90 minutes until we reach our destination. I look around the cabin and ‘all is quiet’ again and several are trying to grab a little more sleep-Well it is the summer holiday and what else would they normally be doing at 9.30am?
Poor old Elliott Rees has had a rough time on the flight and been sick several times. I check on him and he looks pale and tells me “it must be something I ate”. He reassures me again that he is OK, but we’ll need to keep an eye on him over the next 24 hours.
Accompanying us on the flight were 34 young ladies from a girls school in Essex. Tom Ham told them he was 20 and they believed him. It’s more likely that they said they believed him
The Captain of the flight informs us that due to heavy traffic going into Singapore airport, we had to queue and we wouldn’t be able to land until 6.10pm. He also tells us that temperatures on the ground are currently 28C and that it had been 38C earlier in the day. It’s a good job we arranged warm weather training on Monday and Tuesday before we left.
As we are landing Mr Thomas tells his son Ioan that after Singapore we have a 7 hour flight to Melbourne. Ioan looks out of the window at the Malaysian coastline and asks, “Is that Melbourne there dad?”
We eventually land at 6.17pm and warm applause comes from our group in the cabin.
As we exit the plane, I am informed of the student who was guilty in ‘winegate’ No names here, I will remind him of his responsibilities later.
We have to complete disembarkation forms before we can pass through customs-Amy Baldwin caused some consternation when she asked whether “Swansea was a country or a city.” No wonder I’ve got no hair left!!
We pass through passport control, collect our cases and take the ‘Nothing to declare’ aisle through customs. No one is stopped and we are able to meet our tour guides Kesh and Mickey who take us to our coaches. It’s about a 25 minute drive to our hotel-The Royal Queens, which is in the centre of the city. As we drive along she points out some of the main sites including the Grand Prix track and Singapore’s version of the London Eye.
We arrive at the hotel at just after 8.00pm. It is newly built and first impressions are very favourable. We check into our rooms and they are top quality in all respects.
After 45 minutes to ‘freshen up’ we meet back in the foyer at 9pm and go to the Bugis Street Mall which is a 10 minute walk away. We have an hour there to get something to eat. Many opt for the traditional option and walk straight into Burger King! Some of the boys and staff go to a noodle bar.
On their return they walk through the flea market and have a preliminary look around the larger shopping areas-I expect many will return for a more detailed inspection later in the week.
Back at the hotel, we have a briefing with details of tomorrow’s activities and a reminder of expectations.
The first Donkey of the Day vote takes place. Mr Thomas was a strong contender after proudly showing his packed case on Facebook last Friday only to leave it behind when he left his house and then having to go back home to pick it up. Elliott Rees was harshly nominated for his biliousness on the plane (I am glad to report that he seems fine now). Amy Baldwin was nominated for taking History GCSE instead of Geography- she clearly needed the Geographical knowledge and Max Treharne was nominated for nearly causing economic collapse in the UK as a result of his fire alarm experiment.
William Hill had ‘closed the book’ on a Mr Thomas victory at lunch time, but much like the Brexit vote, there was a late swing to the right that saw a clear win for Max Treharne with 51 votes to 5 for Mr Thomas and 4 for Amy Baldwin. No-one voted for Elliott.
All are in their rooms by 11.10pm in preparation for a big day tomorrow-The visit to Universal Studios.
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