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A weblog designed to share Geography resources with students and colleagues

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Alps Notebook

Categories: Geography General
Armed only with a phone and a memory like Swiss Cheese, I've attempted to chronicle our week in the French Alps, should act as a reference point throughout the year...
Sunday 8th June
Our trusty bus, Vivienne, and its drivers Terry and John ease us into Morillon around 1.30 pm. Having Miss Vollaire as a native French speaker makes our negotiations re: rooms etc with Jean Marc and the staff at Chalet des Pistes simple for once...

Chalet des Pistes, Morillon
With fire drills out of the way, its a quick tour of the village (decidedly cloudy today) before a visit to Lac Bleu, our leisure park for the week. Mr McKean provides the evening entertainment with his general knowledge quiz, with students happily displaying minimal geographical/ French knowledge ;-)
Monday 9th June
Up and out early for our first visit to Chamonix, a town we discover seems to have opened a week later (again) this year. The Montenvers takes us up to the Mer de Glace, which provides many of the students with their first real glimpse of a glacier. I think few of them realise the scale of this until we point out that the tiny black dots are people embarking on an ascent...
Mer de Glace from path descent
Unfortunately, neither the ice tunnels or the summer bobsleigh are open this week. However, the students seem to take this in their stride and head straight for the joys of McDonalds in Chamonix. Back to the Lac Bleu (torrential downpours not deterring our intrepid paddlers) and then a Euro 2008 spectacular. Magnificent face painting from Emma, Clare and Craig among others to get the party in the mood
Tuesday 10th June
On to Annecy, a place where I am beginning to think the sun always shines. Glorious weather yet again for our urban study. I take first watch at our meeting point as the other staff circulate the town, mixing shopping at the market with monitoring the pupils (who are shopping at the market anyway). Enjoy people watching, including a bizarre display of speed skating practise on very long roller blades
Lake front Annecy
In the afternoon, after a lazy lunch in the park, we're out on Lac du Annecy for some outstanding limestone scenery, paraglider heaven and a window on the lifestyle of the very rich along the shores
Lac du Annecy
Spot the Paragliders
Retail therapy and ten pin bowling follow, where Clare insists she's a novice while wrapping up the girls best score and Mr McKean prepares for a week of excuses for his non- performance... 'Disco' bus on the way home, where 'Ring of Fire', 'Amigo Charlie' and some woeful vocal performances entertain us.
Wednesday 11th June
The day it all goes wrong for me. We visit the Bosson Glacier, where again, the glacier snout is retreating rapidly. While we are at the viewing platform eating our packed lunches, a roar of thunder echoes across our head. As we anticipate the rain, Terry points out that the noise was in fact the side of the glacier collapsing. We see another couple of breaks as we watch global warming in action.
Bosson 2008
I make the biggest mistake of the week as I go back down from the glacier in the fast group. Paul W is down in 7 1/2 minutes. In my attempts to keep up, I put my legs in severe danger of non-use for the remainder of the trip. It is now Sunday and I'm struggling to bend my knees... Made worse afterwards when I attempt to play football and Roy, ehm, runs into my leg, which swells to double the size. The old pins are finally finished during silly games at night, including the 'bouncy'!
Thursday 12th June
Always my favourite day as we take our trip into Sixt fer a Cheval, which translates as 'horseshoe' , a direct reference to the fact we're walking into an enormous Corrie. Almost the whole physical element of the course could be taught in here, with braided rivers, intermittent limestone drainage, caverns, alluvial fans, hanging valleys, u-shaped valleys and just about everything else. Miss Beaton seems in a trance as we take in what's around us. The kids meanwhile head straight for the waterfall for a shower..
Waterfall Sixt
We all do our photos of groups etc and some of the staff indulge in photo opportunities too...
Me on the bridge at Sixt fer a Cheval
Afterwards, its back to the park in Morillon to reacquaint our party with the extremely jovial owner of the high ropes adventure park. Most of the students go for the 'black' course, which takes them about thirty to forty feet into the canopy and has some epic zip slides across the lake. The staff follow, petrified, as Mrs Lindsay photographs their cowardice from below
Me on High Ropes 1
Thursday night, as always, is disco night at the hotel, and Mr M gamely wrestles with the mixing decks, with every new tune being preceded by 'Amigo Charlie'. Mrs Lindsay threatens to storm the dance floor a few times, but fortunately, the pupils manage to keep it fairly full, with Miss Beaton and Miss Vollaire ably handing their frequent sorties to the tuck shop. An abrupt halt mid song brings the curtain down on our last night in the hotel
Friday 13th June/Saturday 14th June
Travelling on this most superstitious of days is fortunately a pleasant experience due to our wonderful drivers and a dose of pupil exhaustion. Melanie, with Sarah, Zoe and Jenny's help had earlier given a French thank you speech to hotel staff. Ferry early at Calais, where Craig's classmates rally round to buy him half the duty free shop for his birthday. I keep the gift and fall asleep, hence stopping the gift giving until the morning as opposed to midnight as planned. We get back home at 8.30 to the strains of '500 miles' , slightly less than half of what we've travelled in 23 hours. On reflection, it's been another great bunch of students and another fantastic trip. Thanks to all who participated!


At 7:24 am, Blogger Mr McKean said...

Woeful vocals??

Bowling excuses??

Don't know what you are talking about - I heard an angelic voice on the bus and wanted to share the glory of winning at bowling amongst everyone!

Well done to the morning runners too - a great way to start the day.

At 7:51 am, Blogger Kenny O'Donnell said...

Why would you possibly want to share in my glory ;-)

Well done to the sleepers. That extra bit of energy ensured you didn't fade like some of the teaching staff...

At 8:57 pm, Blogger GeoBlogs said...

Nice pics Kenny. Looks like a good time was had by all !

At 9:00 pm, Blogger Kenny O'Donnell said...

Yes, excellent trip, great location, great kids and staff, Alan. The trip is a fixture now and kind of runs itself


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