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Newbottle Primary Academy

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Newbottle primary school

Y6 Visit to Normandy

From Newbottle to Normandy

From 15th - 18th May 2017, Year 6 visited Château de Chantereine near to the French village of Criel-sur-Mer. It was the second time that children from our school have visited this fantastic location.

This page is a record of our exciting adventures.

Day 1 – Lundi

The day that we had all been waiting for had finally arrived. Children had spent months looking forward to an exciting trip away, teachers had eagerly awaited the chance to give pupils the chance to experience another country and parents could not wait for a week of peace and quiet!

However, arriving at school at 3am still comes as a shock to the system! Once our bags were loaded onto the bus and we had said our goodbyes, we set off in the darkness on the long journey south. It was quiet at first: some caught up on some of the sleep which they had missed out on and others chatted or played games.

Once the sun rose, more of us awakened from our slumber in time for us to stop for breakfast. This allowed us to pick up our new driver, Daniel, who will be with us for the rest of the week.

By 11:30, we had arrived at the Eurotunnel terminal. This was a huge relief to the teachers as “What time will we get there?” becomes a bit tiring after the thousandth time. After a short wait, many children had their first experience of crossing the channel through the tunnel. This dispelled some of the pupils’ thoughts about the bus driving through the tunnel in pursuit of the train, in addition to other weird and wonderful explanations of how the whole thing works.

We had our lunches during the crossing and arrived in France, which, to our delight, was dry and warm, unlike the English weather we had left behind.

Once we had travelled a bit further south, we arrived at the town of Boulogne-sur-Mer, where we visited Nausicaa. It is a fantastic aquarium with many different species, including sharks, sea lions, turtles and even crocodiles! It was amazing to see creatures with such powerful jaws and veracious appetites. However, if the creatures had seen the speed at which some of us can devour a packet of fruit gums on the bus, they would surely be equally impressed.

Following an entertaining few hours at the aquarium, we made our way back to the bus to continue the final leg of today’s journey to the château. Our teachers were delighted that not only have we behaved superbly all day, we have also managed to finish the entire journey without one of Mrs. Pigford’s new ‘vomit buckets’ being used for the first time (a significant improvement on last year!).

When we arrived, there were gasps because of how amazing the place looked. We took our belongings to our rooms and, after a fire drill, went for our evening meal. It was good that so many of us tried the local French cheeses.

To finish off the day, we completed a ‘Scrapheap Challenge’. This involved producing a design which would protect a water-balloon from a test, such as kicking, bouncing, squashing etc. Our group leaders for the week then carried out these tests to find a winner.

Tomorrow, we’re off to Rouen for the day. We can’t wait!

Day 2 – Mardi

It has been a hot one! We awoke to bright sunshine and clear blue skies, which, fortunately, have stayed with us throughout the day.

After breakfast, we boarded the coach and made the trip to Rouen. It is a beautiful town with a lot of historical buildings. First of all, we visited the magnificent Cathédrale de Notre Dame (not to be confused with its Parisian namesake!). Inside, we found out about the story of Joan of Arc and saw the tomb of Richard the Lionheart, who was King of England.

Following this, we toured the streets of the old town and were fascinated by its crooked, timber-framed buildings. We went to a boneyard: this was a place where the remains of plague victims were processed years ago. We even saw a mummified cat which had been buried alive under the buildings to ward off evil spirits. It was a strange thing to see. Before this, Mr. Carter had been the oldest mammal we had ever met.

With the temperature rising, we visited a park and sat in the shade of the trees to have lunch.

In the afternoon, we explored more of Rouen’s busy streets and came across a church which is dedicated to Joan of Arc. It is a peculiar-shaped building situated next to a cross, which marks the site where she was burned at the stake in 1431. We hope that we’ll be able to sleep tonight after that gruesome story! Still, those with Sunderland season tickets have experienced far worse this season!

Next came the bit that we look forward to the most – spending our parents’ hard-earned money! We visited the high street area and called in at various shops. If anyone thought that immersing us in cultural activities in a foreign land would dampen our enthusiasm for things such as Pokemon, they were much mistaken.

We finished our visit to Rouen by getting ourselves an ice cream or a slush to help us cool down from the hot sunshine. For once, even Miss Moran and Mrs. Pigford abandoned their coats and gloves!

Before returning to the chateau, we called at a hypermarket and treated ourselves to some French produce.

The sun was still shining when we got back but the temperatures had dropped enough to allow us to use the field for some free time. Some of us played cricket, others kicked a football about and the rest of us enjoyed lazing around on the grass.

Once we had finished our evening meal, we went to the huge sports hall to round the day off with a ‘Mini Olympics’ challenge. This involved a series of races between teams with a variety of fun (and strange) rules such as ‘elephant racing’ and plate balancing. Even the teachers had a team. They outclassed the children but the judges seemed determined to overlook their brilliance. All us children can hope is that by adopting a growth mindset, we can maintain the belief that determination, persistence and hard work will one day see us reach the lofty heights that they have achieved.

Anyway, as another day draws to a close, we need to have a good night’s sleep to prepare us for tomorrow’s activities!

Day 3 – Mercredi

So far, the predicted thunderstorms have not made an appearance. Instead, we have had a very busy day, bathed in hot sunshine.

After breakfast, we went to one of the classroom areas and divided into groups of four. We were given the instructions and the ingredients we needed to create our own croissants. We worked hard to knead the dough and roll it out into large rectangular shapes. However, Mary Berry has nothing to worry about. There were some ‘interesting’ techniques, including sliding the rolling pin side-to-side in a zig-zag motion. Fortunately, just as on Monday’s coach journey, there were no soggy bottoms.

Once we had tried baking for ourselves, we walked into the beautiful village of Criel to sample how the experts did it. In the local boulangerie, we used our rapidly-improving French skills to order things such as tartes aux caramel and pain au raisin. They were delicious! By this time, the temperatures were beginning to soar, so we strolled back to the chateau and had our lunches on the field in the shade of the trees.

The afternoon session saw us take a walk along the quiet path to Criel-sur-Mer to visit the beach. It was lovely to lie on the sand or step into the shallows to cool our feet. In small groups, we visited the local ice cream shop and purchased something to cool us down. We all managed to make ourselves understood in order to get the type and flavour that we wanted.

When we returned to the chateau, we had a wash as it seemed that most of the beach was stuck to us. After a nice, cold drink, we went into the sports hall, where our leaders – Mathew and Fin – taught us some archery skills. There were some very good shots, although the accuracy could perhaps have improved if we had been allowed to attach pictures of our teachers to the targets!

As if that wasn’t enough, we had a go at fencing with Molly and Lucien. It was a good job that we were only using plastic training equipment as there were some feisty competitors! It was really fun.

The entertainment after our evening meal was called ‘Mutation’. It was a sort of ‘whodunnit’ activity which made us all laugh.

The temperature at the end of the day is a lot cooler and we have just had some rain. Even so, we all have impressive tans which you’ll be jealous of. As we have been forced to have showers at regular intervals, we can definitely assure you that it is actually a result of the nice weather and not just a build-up of dirt!

Tomorrow, we have lots more activities planned, including a visit to the town of Dieppe. We can’t wait!

Day 4 – Jeudi

That’s the last full day over. The glorious sunshine, which had been with us for most of the week, finally disappeared and was replaced with cloud and cooler temperatures.

We took a trip into the town of Dieppe, where we walked into the centre and looked around. Making our way towards the seafront, we saw a memorial to soldiers who lost their lives on the beach in 1942 during attempts to take on the German forces, who had occupied the town. We tried to imagine how difficult it would have been by running up the steep, pebbly slopes.

We had lunch on the beach before getting onto the coach to travel to our next destination.

This turned out to be Val-Ygot, a Nazi launch site for the terrifying V1 ‘Doodlebug’ rockets, which targeted London and ports on the south coast of England during the Second World War. We saw the buildings, which had been destroyed by the RAF before the site had the chance to become operational. Using the information boards displayed on each feature, we were able to answer questions in the activity booklets we had been given. However, it was another old sight which Mr. Pigford found more interesting during the day; leaping from his seat at some traffic lights to photograph a 1970s Renault Alpine. No one else cared.

When we left Val-Ygot, we travelled to a farm, which produced goats’ cheese. The owner, Laurence, showed us the animals, which were very friendly. Everyone loved the goats except Miss Moran, who screamed if they came too close. We had the opportunity to taste some fresh goats’ milk and then saw how the cheese was made. By this time, the heavens had opened but we were just glad that all of our outdoor activities had taken place in the dry.

For our evening meal, there was a surprise awaiting us – frogs’ legs and snails! After a hot few days in the sun, can you imagine going into the dinner hall and seeing all these slimy little creatures, all eating frogs’ legs and snails? Well that’s what happened! It was great that so many people were willing to give them a try and we should all be really pleased with ourselves for doing so. What was surprising was that there were people who tried these unusual things when they would not eat a piece of chicken earlier in the week! Perhaps it just shows how this experience has helped us to embrace new things.

For our final night in France, DJ Lucien and top dancer, Fin, put on a disco for us. Feasting on frogs’ legs had obviously given us their powers as we bounced around the place.

It is hard to believe that we go home tomorrow, but we look forward to seeing you all soon!

Day 5 – Vendredi

People say that time passes quickly when you're having fun. How right they are.

We finished our packing then took our cases to the coach so that they could be loaded on board whilst we were having breakfast.

Departing at 9am, we made the journey north towards Calais and stopped at the shopping centre, Cité Europe. There, we had lunch in McDonald’s before returning to the coach so that we could make our scheduled time for the Eurotunnel crossing.

Once we had arrived back on English soil, we completed our long trek back to the north east, stopping several times on the way for meal and toilet stops.

Shortly after 9pm, our thirteen-hour journey was over and we saw our families waiting on the hill outside school to collect us. After many hugs, we collected our cases and made our way home, no doubt looking forward to retiring to bed after an exhausting day. 

An amazing five days were over, but the memories will stay with us forever.

Au revoir.