2011 Southern England
In the summer of 2011 the youth choir toured Canterbury, Dover, Portsmouth, Stone Henge, Windsor, and London.
Day 1 - Tuesday July 5 - flight day D
4:00pm - 1 - 29 passenger mini bus from Cherrey Bus Lines to arrive at the Elgin Mall (behind restaurant in parking lot) for loading of luggage and passengers
4:30pm - depart for Toronto Pearson International Airport - Terminal # 3
6:55pm - arrive for check in at the Air Transat desk (groups are advised to check in at least 3 hours prior to scheduled departure for international flights)
9:55pm - depart on Air Transat flight # 222 from Toronto on overnight flight to London, England (flying time: 7 hrs)
- evening meal served
Day 2 - Wednesday July 6 London to Canterbury B/D
9:55am - arrive London Gatwick International Airport - South Terminal, clear customs and collect your luggage
10:30am - meet your mini coach & driver from Macpherson Coaches for loading and depart for Canterbury
11:45am - arrive in Canterbury, a 2,000 year-old city and pilgrimage site containing the 11th century cathedral and tomb of Thomas Beckett
- time to purchase lunch
Email to Parents -It's 12:12 local time. (7:12 am your time.) the flight was great. All the first time fliers were fine. We are just on our way to Canterbury now.
1:25pm - meet your guide at the Visitor Center at the Buttermarket area
1:30pm - begin your guided 90 minute walking tour of Canterbury - an ancient walled city with many narrow streets dating back to Medieval times
3:00pm - tour concludes at Canterbury Cathedral - enter for your self-guided visit **cathedral not available for performances today or tomorrow
3:30pm - conclude visit, meet coach for boarding and transfer to hostel
4:00pm - check into the Canterbury Youth Hostel for a 2 night stay
- time to unpack and relax before dinner
Email to Parents (4:40pm) - We had our walking tour of Canterbury. They did well but many have been awake for well over 24 hours now. Some got sleep on the plane but others (me included) did not. We will be having dinner soon then heading out for our first concert. After that then we get some sleep!
6:00pm - dinner provided at your accommodation
6:45pm - board coach and transfer to Folkestone
7:15pm - arrive at Southcliff Hotel
7:45pm - concert performance by the St. Thomas Youth Choir
8:15pm - conclude program and enjoy refreshments
8:30pm - depart for the hostel
9:00pm - arrive for overnight accommodation after a very long day!!
Day 3 - Thursday July 7 Canterbury & Dover B
8:00am - cold buffet breakfast on site
9:00am - transfer by coach to the center of Canterbury where you will have free time this morning to explore the shops and sites
- purchase lunch at a local eatery to take with you
Email to Parents (9:35am) - We are in Canterbury for some souvenir shopping this morning. Everyone feels much better after getting some sleep.
11:00am - meet coach and depart for Dover 12:30pm - arrive and visit Dover Castle, overlooking the famous White Cliffs of Dover (include visit to tunnels)
3:00pm - meet coach and transfer to the docks
3:30pm - arrive at the dock for loading
4:00pm - see the sights of Dover from the "Southern Queen" on a 40 minute cruise - experience the busiest shipping lanes in the world
4:40pm - after the cruise purchase dinner in Dover
6:00pm - meet as a group at a central location to transfer to the Beacon Church & Christian Center
6:30pm - arrive at the church with time for a rehearsal, sound check and changing for the concert
7:30pm - evening community concert by the St. Thomas Youth Choir
8:30pm - conclude concert with some time to visit and enjoy refreshments
9:15pm - board coach and return to your hostel
10:00pm - arrive at the hostel for overnight accommodation
Email to Parents (10:15pm) - Hello everyone!
I started to write just after dinner to tell you about our day but we reached the church sooner than I thought and we got off to do this evening's concert.
After our shopping time this morning in Canterbury we headed out to Dover to go to the castle. It was fabulous! There was an entire complex with the Keep (Henry the 2nd's), various buildings and underground tunnels. They have recently restored the inside of the Keep with furnishings and wall hangings, so the kids got a great idea of what life was like then. There was a beautiful chapel an a 2000 year old Roman tower as well.
There are three tunnel systems under the castle with over 4 miles of tunnels. Two of them are open to the public. Some of them were dug out for the Napoleonic wars. The one I went in with some of the kids was an underground WWII hospital. We went through various quarters, the kitchen and dining facilities, the wards and operating room. All of the equipment in these rooms was the real thing. It was a great eye opener.
Some of the others went through the a set of tunnels 150 feet below us. This was the comand complex Churchhill used to direct the operation to bring the troops back after Dieppe. Later, when we were out on the boat, we could see the main windowed command centre half way up the cliff.
Next we were out on the boat. The view of the cliffs was wonderful. One of the cliffs we could see, just out of town, climbed up form the land at about a 45 degree angle then fell straight to the sea. This cliff is said to be the one Shakespeare was inspired by for the storm scene from King Lear.
Graham conducted his arrangement of the White Cliffs of Dover on the boat as we looked at the cliffs themselves. It was a great moment.
The concert tonight went very well. The minister was a lot of fun. He is a real Glee fanatic, so when we sang Don't Stop Believing he was almost beside himself.
We are back from the concert now and the kids are relaxing at the hostel. Tomorrow we see the HMS Victory and have some time at the beach. Should be a lot of fun. Talk to you then.
Day 4 - Friday July 8 to Portsmouth & Cholderton B
8:00am - cold buffet breakfast on site
8:30am - check out and loading of the coach
9:00am - board coach and depart for Portsmouth
11:30am - arrive at the Dockyard to visit the HMS Victory
- the HMS Victory - Her Majesty's Ship Victory is the only surviving naval warship that represents the skill of naval dockyard shipwrights, ship designers and the industrial ability of Britain during the mid 18th century
- possible opportunity for group to sing a couple impromptu songs
1:00pm - conclude your visit with free time to purchase lunch and to enjoy your free afternoon at the beach at the Southsea Beach area
- group to purchase a fish and chip dinner this evening in the area
7:00pm - meet the coach for boarding and depart for Cholderton
7:45pm - arrive at the Cholderton Youth Hostel to check in for 2 nights
- evening at leisure at the hostel
Email to Parents (10:45pm)
Today was a travel day. We packed up in Canterbury and headed for Portsmouth to see the HMS Victory. Of course the kids were all saying "We're going to see a boat?" Then they saw it! There were great expressions on their faces. The expressions continued as they went through the various decks. Just about everyone had to duck at some point, which made a real impression on not only the tall people in the choir, but especially those who have never had to duck before.
Two special things happened while we were on board. We had the opportunity to sing "The Love of the Sea" on the top deck at the spot where Lord Nelson was shot. The kids were all thrilled! As well, our trio who sing "Frobisher Bay" (Hannah, Nicole, and Heather) were able to sing their piece in the roped off area Lord Nelson's cabin. They were so excited they could hardly get themselves organized. Hugh smiles when they were done! As they were coming back over to the other side of the rope the officer who was with us say they could relax and stop shaking now.
Fate that we spent the afternoon looking around the dockyard navel museums. (This was supposed to be our beach day, but the cool weather and the on and off rain changed that plan for us.)
We got back on the coach and headed for our hotel. After we checked in we set off to find a location for dinner, but everywhere we tried there were people lined up out the doors. Oh right, it's Friday!!
We returned to the hotel and a very helpful check in woman assisted us with ordering in pizza for everyone. We ordered 7 different types of pizza and the kids occupied themselves by chasing around the peacocks that are wandering around. We are out in the country at a beautiful place with a farm attached. They are all thrilled with the area.
Tomorrow - Stonehenge and Salisbury Cathedral!
Day 5 - Saturday July 9 Stonehenge, Salisbury & Newton-Tony B/D
8:00am - cold buffet breakfast on site
8:45am - board coach and depart for Stonehenge
9:00am - arrive for visit - Stonehenge stands impressively as a prehistoric monument of unique importance, a World Heritage Site, surrounded by remains of ceremonial and domestic structures - some older than the monument itself
9:45am - depart for Salisbury
10:15am - meet your guide at the coach park for a 90 minute guided walking tour of Salisbury
11:45am - tour will conclude at Salisbury Cathedral, which has changed little in over 700 years for a self-guided visit
- set within eight acres of lawn and surrounded by historic buildings and museums within the spectacular Cathedral Close, the Cathedral is unique in being built almost entirely in one architectural style - Early English Gothic. Britain's tallest spire (123m / 404ft) was added a generation later.
- inside the Cathedral discover nearly 800 years of history including the finest preserved Magna Carta (1215), Europe's oldest working clock (1386) and most stunning font. Explore the roof spaces on a tower tour, climbing 332 steps to the base of the spire, and admire the magnificent views across Salisbury **note: no space available to perform today
12:15pm - conclude your visit with time to purchase lunch
1:30pm - board your coach and depart for Newton Toney
2:00pm - arrive at St. Andrews Church for your afternoon performance during the Flower Festival
- time for sound check and rehearsal
2:30pm - afternoon concert by St. Thomas Youth Choir
- remainder of the afternoon will be spent enjoying the festival
5:00pm - board coach and return to Cholderton
6:30pm - enjoy dinner at the hostel this evening
- this evening is at your leisure (suggest a drive to Shaftsbury or return to Salisbury)
Email to Parents (11:15pm)
Today was Stonehenge! We arrived just before they opened at 9:00am. The crowds event at that time were starting to get heavy. They have the touring of the stones set up so you can walk all around them, but you can't actually walk up and touch them. Too bad. Still the monument is very impressive. The kids spent a lot of time listening to the audio guide and taking pictures.
Next we headed in to Salisbury to have a city tour and go through the cathedral. As apart of the tour we went into a beautiful church on our way to the cathedral. It was St Thomas' Church. As the guide was talking to the kids I spoke with the minister. He was there because they we doing a Saturday tea. He gave us permission to sing. It was a great impromptu moment.
The city tour was very good, but the cathedral was great! When we arrived there was a service on so we first went to see one of only 4 original copies of the Magna Carta. A few of the kids knew the significance of this document. It was fabulous to see. As well there was an original King James bible on display. This is the 400th anniversary of it's first edition.
After seeing these we went into the cathedral itself. The service was just finishing. After a few minutes I found a minister up near the alter. Although we were not scheduled to sing, I asked if we might be able to perform sacred piece. He replied that he did not see why not. That is what the church is for. We sang "O Vos Omnes". The cathedral was still quite full from the service and others coming in who know that the service had ended and they could now move around and take photos. We started to sing and 400 to 500 people stopped and listened. After, some of the kids said their legs were shaking. A number said that this was the highlight of the tour so far.
We had a quick lunch and headed of to perform at the flower festival. It was a beautifully quaint country church that had been set up with flower displays throughout. This small church had actually been taken over by the displays. Wait until you see the pictures!
The day has concluded with a fabulous dinner and some time to visit take pictures of the animals which are a part of the youth hostel complex we are staying at. The connected business is a petting zoo. The goats are particularly friendly. And a very large pig named Bernard was quite a hit last night. He was not around today though, and some of us did have pork for dinner . . .
Tomorrow - off to Windsor Castle!
Day 6 - Sunday July 10 Windsor & London B/D
8:00am - cold buffet breakfast on site
9:30am - check out and loading of the coach
10:00am - board coach and depart for Cholderton St. Nicholas Church
10:20am - arrive with some warm up time
11:00am - group to perform during morning church service
12:00noon - service to conclude with time to visit and enjoy refreshments
12:45pm - group must depart for Windsor
2:15pm - arrive at the coach park and meet your guide at 2:30pm
2:30pm - begin your visit with your guided tour of Windsor Castle, founded by William the Conqueror in 1070, the castle has undergone many renovations over the past 800 years
- priceless objects reside in the State Apartments, ranging from paintings by Rubens and Holbein to Henry VIII's sword and suit of armor
- also visit Queen Mary's Dolls' House
- after the castle visit learn a little history about the area on a guided walk
5:15pm - board coach and depart for London
6:30pm - arrive into London to check in at the Holiday Inn Express London Limehouse for a 4 night stay
Note: once you arrive at the hotel you will say good bye to your driver as you will not be using
his services while in London
7:40pm - use the tube to transfer to dinner (board at the Limehouse DLR Station to Canary Wharf, then walk to restaurant)
8:00pm - late group dinner at Zizzi at Canary Wharf
9:00pm - after dinner return to your hotel for overnight accommodation
Email to Parents (12:20am)
Just a quick note to say I have not had a chance to do yesterday's email yet. We had a late dinner once we got to London, so all went straight to bed. I'll try to get you updated soon.
Day 7 - Monday July 11 London B/D
8:00am - hot buffet breakfast on site
- group to use tube passes today (board at the Limehouse DLR Station - your guide will direct you through the tube today during your tour)
9:00am - your professional step on guide will greet you at the hotel to take you on a guided walking panoramic tour of London (you will use the tube to transfer between areas)
- you will see such sights as St. Paul's Cathedral, Buckingham Palace - official residence of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, historic Westminster Abbey - where kings and queens have been crowned since 1065, the Houses of Parliament and its famous clock tower, Big Ben
1:00pm - after the tour purchase lunch (suggestion: the Covent Garden Market where you can explore the piazzas and historic buildings)
- afternoon is free for sightseeing in chaperoned groups
Suggestions: admissions not included
- British Museum, founded in 1753 - this is the oldest museum in the world and its treasures span two million years of world history and civilization - museum is divided into 94 galleries **free admission
- Madame Tussauds - where you will enjoy a visit to the museum and experience the glittering world of fame and celebrities (Baker Street underground) **approx ?23.00
- St. Paul's Cathedral to view the newly refurbished interior - it's an iconic part of the London skyline and a symbol of the hope, resilience and strength of the city and Nation that it serves - you can go in for a self guided visit - ?8,50 student groups / adults ?11,50
- Trafalgar Square - with its position in the heart of London, it is a tourist attraction, and one of the most famous squares in the UK and the world. At its centre is Nelson's Column, which is guarded by four lion statues at its base. Statues and sculptures are on display in the square, including a fourth plinth displaying changing pieces of contemporary art.
5:30pm - meet for a group dinner at the Spaghetti House on Haystreet
Email to Parents (6:00pm)
So I finally have a chance to write. Yesterday started out with a church service at an absolutely beautiful country church. If you imagine the perfect, quaint country church - a little lane leading up a hill to the church, houses with thatched roves, a big wooden gate, and then a stone church with big wooden doors - you've got the right image in your head. The choir did their best singing of the tour at this service. The minister was fantastic. She did an excellent job. The people were very welcoming, especially since they do not have a regular choir or organist at their church. They had made us a lunch to take on the coach, so we headed for Windsor Castle.
At Windsor we had a wonderful tour of the castle, seeing the state apartments and the grounds around the castle. A number of times the palace guards marched right past us, no more than 10 feet away. Much closer than we would be able to see them at Buckingham Palace. The apartments themselves were quite incredible. And St George's Hall (the main reception room of the castle) is absolutely stunning!
On our way into the castle though we had a bit of excitement. Wade did not realize that we would be going through a security gate with a metal detector. He had his pocket knife with him. He talked to an officer in advance of going through, saying he had this knife. The officer said to just keep it with him, but not to take it out or flash it around. Wade placed his knap sack on the x-ray scanner and went through the security gate. Of course the gate went off. As Wade walked back to the guard he said, "I guess you caught me". The guard did not look impressed as he showed Wade an x-ray of his knap sack, and in the middle there was the image of a great big meat cleaver! Wade of course could not figure out what was going on. They ran the bag through again, and after seeing the same image Wade asked, "Is that a meat cleaver in my bag?" Another officer came over to tell the one running the scanner that this was a security test. Wade of course was quite please not to be going off to the Tower of London and our tour proceeded without further incident!
Our trip into London took a while as the weekend traffic was returning to the city. We arrived late to the hotel and were late to dinner. Hence not sending out the email past night. The dinner though was fantastiic! It was nice to finally sit down and have a bit to eat.
Moving on to today. We were dragging ourselves around the breakfast tables as we tried to get going after our late night. Our guide met us and we headed out to see the sites. We tubed to Westminster and saw the parliament buildings and Westminster Abbey. After that we went over to see the changing of the horse guard. Then a walk down the Mall toward Buckingham Palace. We took pictures at the location were the soldiers start when they are going down to do the changing of the palace guard at Buckingham. There is a much better view of the soldiers and the marching band from that location. We then finished walking down to the palace and had a look. The crowds were enormous! After many pictures, a visit to the Canada gate, and a look at where Charles and Camilla, and for now William and Kate live, we ended up at Trafalgar Square. After looking around we made our way to Covent Garden Market to have lunch. The afternoon has been free to explore in our chaperone groups and we are now sitting at dinner before going to see "Phantom of the Opera".6:45pm - conclude dinner and walk to the theatre
7:00pm - arrive at Her Majestys Theatre to locate your seats for the performance
7:30pm - attend an evening Musical theatre performance of "Phantom of the Opera"
10:00pm - show concludes, after the show return to your hotel by tube (board at the Charing Cross Station (Bakerloo Line) to Embankment, switch to the District Line to Tower Hill, then walk to the Tower Gateway Station to board the DLR to Limehouse Station)
Day 8 - Tuesday July 12 London B
8:00am - hot buffet breakfast on site
- group to use tube passes today (board at the Limehouse DLR Station to Tower Gateway and switch to the Tower Hill Station and take the District Line to Cannon Street - you will then have to walk from the station to Shakespeare's Globe)
9:00am - depart for Shakespeare's Globe Theatre
9:45am - arrive at Shakespeare's Globe Education Centre in time to check in for your workshop and tour
10:00am - today you will participate in the Globe Theatre's Lively Action Program "Playing at the Globe" which is made up of the following components:
- a lecture explores the Globe's unique relationship between actor, audience and architecture and examines how this relationship shapes the language and dramatic structure of Shakespeare's plays
- a tour of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre - a faithful reconstruction of the open-air playhouse designed in 1599, where Shakespeare worked and wrote many of his greatest plays & briefly visit the Globe Theatre Exhibition - inside you will see exhibits about theatrical costumes, music and special effects
11:30am - at the conclusion of the program you will have time to purchase lunch
1:30pm - arrive back at the theatre for a matinee performance
2:00pm - attend a matinee performance of "Much Ado about Nothing"
4:45pm - at the conclusion of the performance depart the theatre by tube to an area to purchase dinner and evening at leisure
- take the tube back to your hotel
Email to Parents (10:30pm)
Today has been another great day! We made our way to the Globe Theatre for a workshop in the morning. Our workshop started out with a general talk about the original theatre in Shakespeare's time and then how the Globe got started again in the 1990's. After the actress ran a scene with a couple of the kids. Of course we ended up doing the balcony scene from Romeo & Juliet. Even if you don't know Shakespeare there is a general knowledge about that scene. Anita was Juliet and her Romeo was Rachel S. They were hilarious together!
We then went down to tour the theatre itself. Our guide took us us to the top balconies on the third level and we had a our first view of the open air theatre. It is spectacular. Seeing this theatre as it would have been 400 years ago as a live working theatre is quite amazing. We then moved down to the gentlemen's boxes. The were basically the same as the upper level, but they are more decorated that the rest. We ended up on the ground level floor in front of the stage where the people stand to watch the show. The theatre is incredibly intimate. There is seating and standing room for just about 2000 people and no one is more than 30 feet from the stage! Once the people arrived for the show that afternoon it did not seem like the theatre overcrowded, yet all those people were there. As well, because the performance is in the daylight not only can we see the actors, but the actors can see us. There is this remarkable connection that happens when they are looking back at you, and you know they are seeing you. I have been involved with theatre for many many years and I don't think I have experienced anything quite like this. It was truly remarkable.
Our guide knew that we were a choir, so she asked if we would like to sing something. The kids were quite excited. We sang and all the other groups with their guides stopped and listened. There were about 150 people in various groups there. After we finished a woman came over to us and was fawning over the kids saying that we had just absolutely made her day. We found out that she was one if the actors at the theatre. Her name is Eve Best and she was the lead role in the show we were to see that afternoon. When we got to the performance we read the bio for Ms. Best. One of her recent film credits is "The King's Speech".
Another great experience while we have been on tour!
Tomorrow we are off to the Tower of London and to get some final
sightseeing and or shopping in!
8:30am - hot buffet breakfast on site
- group to use tube passes today (board at the Limehouse DLR Station to Tower Gateway, then walk to the Tower of London)
9:00am - depart for the Tower of London
9:45am - arrive to pick up tickets
10:00am - this morning you will begin with a self-guided walk through the buildings ~ throughout history, the Tower of London has served many roles including a prison, execution site, royal residence and military garrison - today, it offers visitors an opportunity to visit the Bloody Tower, Traitors' Gate, the Jewel House and much more…..
12:00noon - break for lunch and further sightseeing and last minute shopping
- group can return to the hotel to freshen up for the evening or remain downtown
5:45pm - arrive at the Strada at the Royal Festival Hall (closest tube stop - Waterloo Station)
6:00pm - group farewell dinner
7:00pm - conclude dinner and walk as a group to the London Eye
7:15pm - arrive and pick up tickets then line up to clear security check
7:30pm - board the London Eye capsules for a spectacular view of the city and to say good bye to London
8:00pm - after your ride, return to your hotel by tube to pack for morning departure (board at Waterloo Station and take the Northern Line to Embankment, then switch to the District Line to Tower Hill, walk to the Tower Gateway Station to board the DLR to Limehouse Station)
Email to Parents (10:50pm)
Well we just finished out late day in London. The kids are in their rooms packing up, getting ready for our early start tomorrow.
We started out by going to the Tower of London. We were there right at the beginning of the day, so we got in to see the crown jewels right away. There were a lot of very wide eyes as we looked at one object after another studded with diamonds, rubies and other precious gems!
Once done there we headed off in various directions with our chaperone groups to visit different parts of the castle. Most of us went to the "Bloody Tower" and the "St. Thomas Tower". The St. Thomas Tower is actually the main entrance in from the river side of the castle. There was a lot to see, especially if you went in to the "White Tower", which is the main building in the middle of the castle.
After our visit we all got lunch in various locations and headed off for a final afternoon of sight seeing and shopping.
The various groups reconvened for a great final dinner then went to the London Eye. If you are not sure what that is, the London Eye is the largest ferris wheel in the world. In stead of seats though there are great big pods that hold up to about 30 people each. We all got into one and had a fantastic view of the various places we had been visiting over the last three days.
We headed back to the the Westminster station of the tube. (We are getting to be quite proficient riders at this point.) It was 3 minutes to nine when we arrived at the entrance to the the station. We waited. Our final moments in the downtown area was standing directly under the bell tower, listening to the Westminster chimes, then hearing Big Ben sound 9 bells. A great finish to the day, and our time in London.
We will see you all tomorrow.
Day 10 - Thursday July 14 B/L
7:00am - breakfast at your accommodation
7:30am - hotel check out and loading of the locally hired 38 passenger coach from Richmond Coaches
8:00am - transfer to London's Gatwick International Airport - South Terminal
8:45am - arrive and check in for Air Transat flight home (international groups must check in at least 3 hours prior to scheduled departure time)
11:45am - depart on Air Transat flight # 323 from London for Toronto (flying time: 8hrs 10 min)
- hot meal served in flight
2:55pm - upon arrival at Toronto's Pearson International Airport - Terminal # 3, clear customs, collect baggage then call up mini bus for loading
3:45pm - load 29 passenger mini bus from Cherrey Bus Lines
4:00pm - depart for St. Thomas
6:30pm - arrive into St. Thomas at the Elgin Mall Welcome Home!