Tuesday, 30 April 2013

From Britain to Barcelona and Back Again!

A couple of weeks ago, Mike and I found ourselves at Gatwick Airport, boarding an Easyjet plane to Barcelona in Spain. We were on a 3 day adventure to St Paul's School. The children at the school are all native Spanish and Catalan speakers, but 50% of their education is in English.
It took only 2 hours to get to Barcelona, at the north east corner of Spain

After a short flight, we touched down at Terminal 2B of Barcelona Airport and were whisked away to our 4* Hotel, Abba Garden. We were lucky enough to have a room with a balcony, which looked out over a beautiful view of Barcelona. The hotel is on the outskirts of Barcelona, but it meant we could see all the various landmarks - the amazing cathedrals, the football stadium, the Olympic stadium and of course the sea! The hotel was the perfect place for us to relax after each day at the school.



The view from our balcony - click to enlarge - if you know
what you're looking for, you can spot the football stadium
nearby, and the Olympic stadium and the stunning National
Museum of Catalan Art at the edge of the mountain
Each morning we had a filling buffet breakfast at the hotel, before a 1 kilometre walk to the school lugging all out props with us. I know our fans in the UK will find this hard to believe, but the weather was really hot all day and meant we were able to set off at 8 in the morning in just a thin shirt and trousers, and we still built up a sweat! The walk was up and over the steep hills behind the hotel, meaning we got even more beautiful views over Barcelona.

Our 3 days at St Paul's were spent working with the 6-12 year olds, running 3 presentations and 8 workshops. With English as a second or third language, reading in English is something the children are understandably reluctant with, but during my visit I got the same excited reaction that I get in the UK - lots of eager and inspired children! I was told before the visit that the British sense of humour is something they really struggle with. But during my visit they laughed in all the right places... and laughed loudly! 

Mike and I were really impressed with the children's enthusiasm and their imaginations. We had great fun working with them on their writing and helping them find the right English words to express themselves. The staff were really friendly and welcoming too, and I don't think I've ever felt as relaxed in a school as I did at St Paul's! A big thank you to Mark Patterson, Claire Neely and Gary Carton for organising such a wonderful visit and to everyone at St Paul's for making us feel at home. We can't wait to return in the future!

After our last session, we had to dash to the airport to catch a flight home, so we weren't able to stay for the book fair, where my books were being sold. As we were about to walk out of the school gate, though, we saw a big group of excited children about to head into the book fair. They cheered and whooped and waved  us goodbye - it was the perfect ending to a wonderful trip. 

As our plane landed back at Gatwick airport, it was raining heavily and our plane passed through a double rainbow. We were definitely back in England! When we got home, though, an email was waiting for us that cheered us up no end. It was from Gary at the book fair, telling us that our books had gone down a storm and been a sell-out success! Attached to the email was the photo below - it makes me so proud to be doing my job!
Just a few of the happy fans at St Paul's School
Shortly after our Barcelona adventure, I visited Nine Mile Ride School in Surrey, England. This reminded me just why I love visiting schools in the UK too. The staff were lovely and the children were full of enthusiasm. Their acting in particular was first rate and would give any Hollywood actor a run for their money. Johnny Depp watch out! This was followed by a Mega Book Signing at the school the next day - I quickly ran out of books and had to drop lots more in afterwards!

As I write this blog, I have just been contacted by a school in Germany who would like a visit in July. My international escapades continue... Keep watching this space!

Best wishes for now,

Luke