TAS visit 10 Downing Street

London Trip February 2016

It was a very early start for four TAS pupils. 5.10am was the time that Jamie had Kirsty and Clare knocking on her front door. Jamie was up and ready to go. So was Mark when we called for him at 5.20am. Everyone met at Skipton train station at 6.30am and worked out which platform we needed to be on for our journey to London.

The journey to London was pretty uneventful and surprisingly quick. Everyone was amazed at how easy it was to reach the other end of the country. Mark was very happy when we saw the Emirates football stadium at Highbury as we were coming into Kings Cross train station.

After the quiet of the train journey, Kings Cross was very busy. We headed to the tube station and bought our travel cards for the day. Pupils were given a quick lesson in navigation on the underground and soon worked out how we were going to get to Westminster. So it was down the escalator, through a subway (remembering to keep to the right hand side) and onto our very first tube. All the pupils were silenced by the speed of the tube; they really had not expected the tube to move so quickly. From hence forth, the tube was renamed the fast train.

We emerged at Westminster to be greeted by the sight of Big Ben. Quick photograph was taken before we walked around to the education centre at the Houses of Parliament. We did not realise how big the building was until we had to walk to the other side of it. After a quick security check, we were shown into a room where we watched a 360° film about the history of parliament. We were able to see how parliament has changed over the years and were told about the significance of the Magna Carta. We were told that we would not be able to go into the House of Commons as they were already working for the day but an image of the room was projected onto the walls around us.

Next stop was the Sovereign's Entrance. This is the gateway that the Queen uses when she comes to officially open parliament for the year. We were all suitably impressed to be walking in the footsteps of the Queen. Although the red carpet is rolled out for her, we had to walk on the stone steps. When opening parliament, the Queen then goes into her private Robing Room. The Robing Room is huge and has a small throne, designed for a small Queen Victoria. Orchid has decided that when she has earned her first million pounds, she will treat herself to her very own throne.

The House of Lords is where all the peers sit. Everyone was surprised by how small the hall was especially considering it has almost 800 peers to fit in there. Our tour guide Corinna told us that once Michael Jackson had a private tour of the Houses of Parliament and he decided that he wanted to buy the even more ornate throne in there. Apparently the King of Pop was no match for our Queen!

The House of Commons were in sitting but we were able to go into the public viewing gallery and watch our politicians in action. Clare spotted the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn on the front row but David Cameron or our local MP, Andrew Stephenson, were not in the Commons whilst we were there.

The London Eye was the next stop on our itinerary. Kirsty and Ben decided to keep their feet firmly on the ground while everyone else went on the ride. However they soon regretted their decision once they realised how cold and windy it was waiting for them. Clare, Mark, Jamie and Orchid took in all the sights and landmarks in London from the glorious heights of the London Eye. Mark pointed out that he could see the Shard from the pod.

Andrew Stephenson was waiting for us at Downing Street. The policeman on duty gave us very precise instructions: we could only take photographs of the door, we could not look inside if the door opened and most importantly we could not touch the door. Apparently the famous door gets polished everyday and the cleaners are not happy if there are any fingerprints on it. We were amazed by how the door opened as if by magic when someone came to the door who was allowed inside. The door magically opened and then closed. Everyone thought it was a wonderful opportunity to be able to walk down Downing Street and Orchid said it was her favourite part of the day.

It was giggles all around at the Science Museum as the pupils explored the exhibits. They all thought it was hilarious to watch Kirsty scream as she received a dose of ECT (electric shock therapy) on the "Don't not touch" display. Pupils could control when she got shocked and meant we learnt about the hidden dangers of electricity.

Many of the exhibits here are interactive. However the glass walkway held no fear for Mark, Jamie and Orchid ... Kirsty on the other hand. Pupils would not let Kirsty miss out on the opportunity to walk along this glass bridge, with a glass handrail, despite her having a massive fear of heights. The things we do for our pupils!

Next door in the Natural History museum, we got to go on what seemed like the biggest escalator in the world. Again lots of fun was had exploring the museum but everyone agreed their favourite part was the earthquake simulator where we got to experience what it would be like in an earthquake. The room literally shook beneath our feet.

As good as we all were at getting around London on the tube, finding the toilets in the Science Museum proved to be one of our biggest challenges. After looking all over the museum, on every floor, we eventually realised the toilets were just behind where we had been standing.

We were all starting to get tired after a very busy day so we headed over to the home of British film premiers, Leicester Square, to get some tea. Despite being exhausted, we managed a quick trip inside M&M World where we were amazed that there was a shop with flour levels selling just M&Ms. The shop was great fun.

Everyone agreed that they had a wonderful time in London and pupils said that they didn't think it was possible to see so much of London in just one day. All have special memories of their time in London. Ben loved the St Bernard dogs around Westminster; Orchid now has her heart set on her very own throne like the Queen; Jamie loved the London Eye and was amazed it took 30 minutes to go all the way round and Mark enjoyed the experience of the London Underground. Overall the trip was a huge success.

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