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Stratford Girls' Grammar School Stratford-Upon-Avon
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Y9 History Trip to Normandy: Real-Time Review

Herewith notes from the trip diary, direct from Normandy...

9 July 2017

Only ten hours to go before the Normandy trip starts.  Meeting at 6am tomorrow morning...

10 July 2017

Everyone arrived all keen and excited, well the girls at least!  No stragglers, and we were away before the expected time of departure, with one or two tears (from the parents...)  We fought the traffic to our first service station stop, where much-needed coffee was gratefully consumed, along with breakfast.  Back onto the coach for a sing-a-long to chart hits - Year 9 girls' dulcet tones sending shivers down our spines... more coffee required. It's possible a cat has been smuggled on board and is currently being strangled...

A little later... Safely on board the Channel Tunnel, heading under 'la manche'.  Some truly marvelous contributions from the girls:  "Don't judge the train by the inside" and "What happens if a tidal wave hits?"... However, everyone pleased that they have mobile signal under the sea...

A little later than that... We've just arrived in Calais. It's raining.  It reminds me of England.  It doesn't appear to have dampened the girls' spirits, as we are treated to a rendition of some song I dont' recognise, accompanied with some lovely out-of-time clapping.

We've just entered the beautiful region of Normandy, and if on command, the sun has peered through the greying clouds.  Lush green forests abound and rolling hills with wheat fields aplenty in Normandy.  Our first sight of a French farmer harvesting his fields and unstereotypically not blocking the road (is that comment a stereotype of a stereotype?)

We are just passing over the architectural delight that is the Pont de Normandie, just outside L'Havre, before our first French pit-stop at Honfleur...

 

          

 

11 July 2017

Arrived safely at the hotel to see its name change.  We have a section to ourselves and the rooms are spacious and comfy.  A hearty dinner of pasta and the girls had a great night's sleep.

This morning, after a substantial breakfast, we are on our way to the Pegasus Briege Memorial.  It was overcast and rainy when the girls woke this morning at about 6.15am.  As we came out of the hotel to board the coach, we saw the last of the fishermen back from their haul, having seen them venture out last night as we arrived.  It's brightening up a little now as we prepare for an interesting day of history...

A little later...Arriving at the museum, we were greeted by a really nice French lady Pauline.  She had a lovely accent and spkoe to us about the 6th Airborne Division's capture of Pegasus Bridge, so named after the horse from Greek mythology.  We watched a detailed film about the mission, and our guide told 'Teddy's Story' about Teddy and his friend who had been hiding by the bridge and Teddy told his friend to keep his head down.  When he turned around, his friend had been killed - shot between the eyes.  Teddy went on to kill 4 surrendering Germans later that same due, due to the rage he felt about the loss of his friend.  We all found this story incredibly moving, and were surprised to then be able to walk along the actual bridge in the museum; we thought it had been destroyed.

 

Later still...Arriving at the 360 cinema in Arronmanches, we were greeted by dog-walkers and the beautiful town of Arronmanches down below the cliffs.  The film of the D-Day landings and the wider Second World War was emotional and very well put together. The film gave us a good sense of the progression of the Second World War whilst not losing sight of the pivotal importance of the D-Day landings. The film heightened our emotions particularly at the horrific experience of war, but also by the uplifting hope of France stabilising politically and socially restructuring. Overall, the film allowed us to understand history through a more personal and emotive experience. After the cinema, we took the coach down to the picturesque town of Arronmanches, where we ate lunch sitting on the sea wall looking at the beach and thinking about "fish children"...Having seen some children swimming in the sea we imagined that they had been abandoned by their mother and adopted by the fish of the sea. Hence, the description "fish children." The lunch of a ham baguette was delicious and the cheese baguette tasted of cheese, for which we were grateful. The chocolate bars were also somewhat surprising in that they weren't brown on the outside but did have brown on the inside...

The skimming of stones into the sea confirmed out fears that we were rubbish at skimming stones. No "fish children" were harmed in the skimming of the stones...

 

 

Published on 11th July 17