Tuesday, August 07, 2007

School Cruise to the Mediterranean
6th - 20th December 1976

A group of students from Eastwood Comprehensive, accompanied by Miss Kirkham, Miss Mackenzie and Mr. and Mrs. Haining went on a school cruise to the Mediterranean in December 1976. Our itinerary was Naples , Italy (for Pompeii) - Alexandria, Egypt (for Cairo) - Limassol, Cyprus - Izmir, Turkey (for Ephesus) - Santorini, Greece - Athens, Greece - Brindisi, Italy.
As well as myself students who went from 3rd year were Beverley Lacey, Roger Bentley, Lorraine Fletcher and Karen Fotherby. Other students included Alison Soar, David Phillips, Russell Nibblett (who Beverley had a very bad crush on!), Marcus Fern, Ian Holmes, Karen Slatcher, Lynne Elvin, Lynn Cross, Sonia ? (Sally Walkers cousin) and the vets son, whose name escapes me. For most of us it was our first trip away from our parents and we had a great time!
The SS Uganda turned out to be a bit of a rust bucket and we wondered whether she would make it through the trip in one piece! The accommodations were very basic. We were in a dormitary with bunk beds. Meals were served cafeteria style, and food was placed on metal trays with compartments in them. If the line didn't move fast enough you'd end up with spaghetti bolognese on top of your meat and two veg!

In 2000 I wrote an article on the cruise for the book "A Century Remembered" produced by the Eastwood Historical Society. It is reproduced below.

Article written by Susan Jackson from
"A Century Remembered" by the Eastwood Historical Society

"In December 1976 a party of students from Eastwood Comprehensive School accompanied by staff members Miss Kirkham, Miss Mackenzie and Mr and Mrs Haining went on an educational cruise around the Mediterranean on the SS Uganda. The itinerary included Italy, Egypt, Cyprus, Turkey and Greece. We flew from Gatwick to Naples, and the drive from the airport to the ship took us through the poor part of town which we all thought was quite dirty and scruffy. Our first glimpse of the ship was also a bit of a shock, not as big as we thought it would be and a whole lot rustier!

Our first morning was spent on an excursion to the ancient ruins of Pompeii. What I found amazing were the bodies of the villagers and animals who had been caught in the path of the molten lava and preserved where they fell. The next four days were spent at sea, trying to stave off sea-sickness while we crossed the Mediterranean from Italy to Egypt. As it was an educational cruise we had lessons during the day and also lectures by the formidable Miss Breeze on the places we would be visiting later in the trip. Our first port of call was Alexandria, and we travelled from there to Cairo by coach. We were all saddened by the pathetically thin children and animals we passed in the villages, and amazed by the incredible number of passengers that Egyptian buses could carry both inside and out! The pyramids and the Sphinx were a spectacular sight, and it was hard to comprehend quite how long they had been there. We had all been told that we could ride on a camel if we wanted to, but to be sure to pay only half the money at the beginning of the ride and the remainder at the end. Unfortunately one of the chaperones did not heed this advice and had to be bailed out by her husband before she disappeared into the sunset! There were many souvenir sellers at the Pyramids and most of us ended up buyin statues of Nefertiti which our parents later found would make excellent door stops!

Our next port of call was Cyprus where we visited Greek and Roman ruins and a fruit packing factory. Two days later we arrived in Turkey and visited the ruins at Ephesus, grimaced at the taste of real Turkish coffee and stocked up on Turkish delight. Santorini, one of the Greek Islands, was next on our list of places to visit. It had been formed as a result of a volcano erupting, and we found to our horror that there were 500 steps to the top. Most of us walked but some people paid to ride up on a donkey. It was an amazing sight to see the poor donkey that Miss Kirkham hired struggle up the steps with her on it's back. The rear view was unbelievable! The following day we arrived in mainland Greece and had the opportunity to see the Acropolis and the Parthenon which were quite spectacular. Later that day one of our students had the chance to visit the ship's hospital for a stomach pumping after having consumed a large amount of whiskey.

Our journey ended at Brindisi and we flew Dan-Air back to London., finally travelling by coach home to Eastwood. It was December, and after two weeks in the sun I found it very difficult to adapt to the chilly weather. I will always be grateful for the experiences I had on the SS Uganda as it served as the spark for a love of travel which I still have today. Unfortunately the SS Uganda did not fare so well. She served as a hospital ship during the Falklands War and then as a transport ship. In 1986 she was sold for scrap, was grounded and capsized during a typhoon in August 1986 while waiting for a breaker's berth in Kaoshiung."

Well that's an adults perspective of the trip, now lets revisit through the eyes of a teenager.
As it was an educational cruise we were all required to keep a diary, and below is a copy of mine. (Bear in mind this was written by a 14 year old picky eater with a very accurate watch!)

Diary of cruise 686 aboard SS Uganda
6th - 20th December 1976
After what seemed like endless packing at 4:05am, we finally set off by coach for Gatwick Airport. The weather was wet, cold and damp, hardly the best travelling weather. At 7:05 a.m. we stopped for 30 minutes at Toddington Service Station for breakfast. I had toast and coffee. The coach journey lasted about 5 1/2 hours. At 9.30 a.m. we arrived at Gatwick Airport. After going through customs, emigration etc, we were finally allowed to board the plane, (Flight DA 3366 to Naples), only to find we were to be delayed. Before flying we had a meal consisting of bacon, tomato, mushrooms, sausage, potato, grapefruit, white and brown rolls and marmelade and tea or coffee. At 11.30 a.m. we finally took off. The flight took about 2 1/2 hours. After going through the airport procedure we were taken by coach to the SS Uganda.
In my opinion the section of Naples I saw was scruffy and dirty. We later learned that this was the poor part of the town.

We boarded SS Uganda and were shown to our dormitary, which was Houtman. Then we were taken to our Muster Station which was G. Gere we were told our lifeboat drill and shown how to fasten a life jacket. We returned to our dormitary which we thought was cramped with small lockers and small narrow bunks. We were sent to fetch our cases and unpack. At 6:30p.m. we were told to go to the cafeteria for our first meal on board ship. To say the least we thought we'd all be going home "slim-line"!

After tea I finished unpacking and read until 10:00 p.m., when we retired to bed. At 10:15 p.m. it was lights out.

We were awoken at 6:30 a.m. by the "William Tell Overture". At 7:50 we had breakfast.
At 9:00 a.m. we set off on coach 10 for an excursion to Pompeii. When we arrived at 9:45 it was raining, just like England!
Our guide showed us many of the ruins amongst which we saw baths, mosaics etc. We were allowed to go into the Pompeii souvenir shops to buy postcards and guidebooks. We returned to the ship for lunch.
About 3:00 p.m. we went shopping in Naples only to find the shops shut. We got back at 5:00 p.m.
At 8:00 p.m. we aet sail for Alexandria. The sea was rather rough and many of us felt like dying to say the least!

Awoke at 6:50 a.m. First lesson today was private study when we began writing our diaries. Then we had a lecture of do's and don'ts on the ship.
After lunch there was a lecture on the places we were going to visit. The next lesson we had a test followed by deck hockey. The final lesson of the day was a lecture on our ship SS Uganda.
After dinner I went to see the "Likely Lads Film", then went to the disco which I enjoyed. This was followed by bed. We were told to put our clocks on half an hour.

Awoken at 7:10 but with altering our clocks got less time in bed.
We had our first lesson in the assembly hall as it was a lecture on Alexandria. At 11.10 a.m. we had a bridge visit which I found very interesting.
After lunch we had the remainder of our lessons.
At 8:15 p.m. we visited the funfair.

Awoken at 7:00 a.m. The first lesson today was theory on Egypt. Then we had private study followed by the second part of our lecture on Egypt.
After lunch we had a deck hockey competition. Both of our schools dorms won their matches.
After tea there was a showing of a John wayne film "Rooster Cogburn" which I thought was very poor.

Saturday (Egypt)
Awoken at 7:00 a.m. We all met up at 9:00 a.m. for our trip to Cairo. About 9:15 a.m. we left the ship and boarded bus 23. During the journey we saw some pathetic sights of thin, half-starved children and animals.
We had a drink stop where there were many traders selling magazines, basketwork, jewellery, loofahs and arab head-dresses.
Our first major stop was at the museum which housed things from the pyramids including some from Tutankhamun. Here we picked up an arab guide (with green teeth, I feel I must add!), who was to remain with us for the rest of the day.
Our next stop was at a mosque, but we didn't stay long as we were short of time.
We arrived at the Pyramids at 3:58 p.m. Some people had their photos taken on camels and others shopped around the base of the Pyramids, haggling for certain goods. We also saw the Sphinx.
At 5:00 p.m. we started our return journey by the desert road. We arrived back at Alexandria about 9:15 p.m.. I brought back a statue of Nefertiti and postcards.

Awoke at 7:10 a.m. About 7:15 a.m. we left Alexandria for our next port of call, Limassol.
Todays first lesson was deck games. Then we had a classroom lesson followed by a church service for those who wished to attend. Then there was a lecture on Cyprus. After lunch we had a lecture, private study and a classroom lesson.
At 8:00 p.m. there was an inter-school quiz which I was in. Eastwood came second to last and third to last (so it was a jolly good show all round!!!).
At 8:45 p.m. there was a disco. Lights out at 10:15 p.m.

Monday (Cyprus)
Awoke at 7:10 a.m. About 9:15 a.m. we went on an independant sightseeing trip. I bought a tea towel and a patterned plate.
After lunch w e visited a fruit packaging factory where we each got an orange and a grapefruit.
Then we visited some greek and roman ruins. We drove back through Limassol, finally returning to SS Uganda.
At 8:15 p.m. there was a dance to the sound of Sonny Sudah and his band. Lights out 10:15 p.m.

Awoke at 7:10. At 8:40 we had an assembly followed by a lecture on Izmir by Miss Breeze. At 10:00 a.m. there was a choice of either deck games or private study in the common room. The next lesson was taken up by the distribution of Turkish money. After lunch we had another lecture by Miss Breeze, but this time on Athens. Following this was a private study lesson where we wrote our essays. After the lessons groups V and VI had an extra lesson in the form of a lecture and films on Turkey.
At 8:15 p.m. there was a fancy dress competition. Lights out 10:15 p.m.

Wednesday (Turkey)
Today at 8:00 a.m. we arrived inTurkey. At 9:00 a.m. we boarded our coach and began our full day tour.
Our first stop was at the shrine of the Virgin Mary. It is said to be the last home of the Virgin Mary, but now it is a chapel. In it's grounds there is a mineral spring which has special healing powers.
Our next stop was at the ruins of Ephesus. After this we visited a castle called St. John's and were allowed to do some shopping. On the way back to SS Uganda we stopped to pick some cotton.
I bought a dish and three boxes of turkish delight.
Thursday (Santorini)
Awoke at 7:10 a.m. Today's music was "Hey Jude" by the Beatles. In the deck hockey matches we played Grenfell and lost. After lunch we went to Santorini in the lifeboats. When we arrived there, we found to our horror that there were over 500 steps to climb! It took nearly 20 minutes to reach the top. I bought a blouse.
After tea there was frog racing. We lost! Lights out 10:00 p.m.

Friday (Greece)
Awoke 6:45 a.m. Arrived in Greece at 7:45 a.m. After breakfast went on a sightseeing tour around Athens. Saw the Acropolis, the Parthenon, bodyguards in national dress, the first olympic stadium, an arch and the temple of wingless victory.
After lunch we were given a handout with questions etc. We were givn a route to follow and told to answer the questions. I bought two small dishes.
After tea there was a showing of the film "All at Sea" which was an adventure film about the SS Uganda. Lights out 10:15 p.m.

Awoke 7:10 a.m. Had extra half hour in bed for time changes. The first lesson was deck games followed by a classroom lesson and a closing lecture.
The afternoon was spent packing. At 8:45 p.m. there was a final disco which was finished with the traditional singing of "Auld Lang Syne". Lights out 10:45 p.m.

Sunday / Monday
Awoke 6:30 a.m. We had to lock our cases and take them to the dance space before 7:00 a.m. Had breakfast, then took hand luggage and coats to Scott classroom. Spent all morning in the common room. Went into Brindisi after lunch for about one hour. The rest of the day was spent in the common room.
At 8:00 p.m. we picked up our hand luggage and assembled on the verandah. At 8:15 p.m. we left the ship and were driven to the airport. At 9:55 p.m. we boarded the aircraft for flight
DA 3387. Arrived Gatwick about 1:30 a.m. GMT. Went through customs etc. Boarded the coach and arrived in Eastwood about 6:15 a.m.
Home at last!

September 2001 update.
I am happy to report that I no longer wear a watch!!!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Fir class (Miss Bamkin). Second year.
Merging Schools ??

After the fall of Walker Street and the Battle for Gilt Hill, here comes another. Hopefully the powers that be will have learnt something along the way this time. Wonder what happened to the wooden seat that Minkley gave us for stopping throwing stones at the windows on his building site?

Schools merger plans on the way?
Eastwood & Kimberley Advertiser
8th March 2007

Parents are expected to discuss the proposal to merge two Newthorpe schools.
A letter from the Nottinghamshire County Council education department last week informed pupils' parents and carers of the possible amalgamation of Greasley Beauvale Junior and Greasley Beauvale DH Lawrence Infant Schools.The details, which the Advertiser has seen a copy of, says the possibility of establishing a single primary school on the existing site is being explored because of falling numbers at each school and the potential effects on their viability.But it added that the proposal was not a reflection on the quality of education the children at both schools receive.A school for 350 pupils is expected to be enough to meet the demand of the catchment area.Officers intend to educate in one building eventually but will operate in the existing schools until then.One carer, whose grandchildren attend the infant school, said he was willing to hear details of the consultation but added that he'd prefer the schools to remain as separate infant and junior schools.No action will be taken until parents' views and comments have been considered.• One of the donkeys that took part in a nativity at Greasley Beauvale DH Lawrence Infant School at Christmas has given birth.Pupils have been asked to name the foal and there are plans to visit the newborn and its mother.
And we're off.......

Well, this is the third major attempt we’ve had putting all this stuff together (and we’ve lost some of it along the way – major thanks to MSN on that one). We’ll still be keeping the version 2 web-pages on britishlibrary.net – link below, when we’ve worked out how to put it there – and we’ll be going on about the same old stuff, ranging from "what was so and so's nickname", to "remember when so and so did that", or even "who was the kid in the red flared cords"? For some reason our brains seem to have set aside a special place to remember this stuff, (as opposed to say, what we should be buying at the grocery store, or what our current next door neighbour is called!).

How it will pan out is anyone's guess (particularly ours) and we’re likely to stray off into other things too, like a new obsession with 70s Top of the Pops and 80s videos on YouTube ......