Friday, July 25, 2008

In The UK

It's Thursday night in Liverpool and seems an age ago when we left the USA. Our train trip was uneventful and we made Boston airport with plenty of time to spare and our flight was delayed an hour!

Lufthansa is a very uncomfortable airline. We were crushed into two seats at the back for our 8 hour flight to Frankfurt. The only saving grace was the very friendly and humorous steward who kept us entertained.

After a 3 hour wait we were stuffed on another Lufthansa flight of 1 ½ hours to Heathrow. Terry decided to check in to an airport hotel rather than lug his bags into Megs on two buses then repeat it in reverse the next morning to meet his wife Dallas and then pick up the rental and drive to Liverpool.

It was very sad parting company with Terry at the airport after three weeks sharing our lives together. I successfully managed two buses to meet Leigh at the bus stop near her sister Meg's place.

After two hours sleep Leigh dragged me into Surbiton for a coffee which waqs the nicest coffee I had had in three weeks. We then jumped on the train to Waterloo and walked along the riverbank past Tate Modern (see photos on previous blog), past the Globe and acrossa bridge and back down the other side to the Tate where we waited for Meg to finish work. It was great to see her again and to give her a big hug from Lucy.

We wandered through Liverpool to a Greek restaurant then trained back to Surbiton. We then rearranged our bags to take the minimum to Liverpool and crashed quite early as the effects of jet lag took over.

After an early rise we leapt on our two buses and returned to Heathrow where Dallas had just arrived. We then completed the complicated procedures involved in finding our car rental firm and then finding our car and then getting out of the carpark.

We had clear instructions to follow and two maps to get to Liverpool. We missed our first motorway exchange, but found ourselves on a lesser road which seemed OK. Dallas then decided we would cut across country to a wee village called Chipping Norton for lunch. This involved us taking several wrong turns and finding ourselves haeding back to London. It was difficult as I was the only authorised driver and I was the best navigator. Once I looked at the map I plotted our route and we were able to enjoy a British pub lunch.

We then hit the motorway to Liverpool and, following Terry's directions, took the long way around Birmingham! I was getting a bit sleepy so we stopped for a coffee. We rang our appartments and they gave us clear instructions to get to them. We began by leaving the motorway at the wrong place and after a bit of bold and decisive driving ended up back on the M62 and finally took the correct exit.

It should have been simple from here! We got lost and took several U Turns before stumbling across our apartments. We have a very nice place with great views over parts of this very old city. It was a relief to be here.

Dallas was pretty shattered from her flight so we wandered into town for a feed (pretty average pub meal) and meandered back and stumbled across the area known as The Cavern, which is where the Beatles began playing. This area was just starting to liven up for the night but we resisted and went back to crash.

The lovely view outside my window became a curse as the beautiful church tower with clock chimed every 15 minutes and seagulls squawked all night.

After a bit of a sleep in we moseyed on down the street for a “full English Breakfast” and then headed to the Information Centre to collect tour type information where we stumbled across the Beatles Shop. Bloody expensive!

We left Leigh there to continue exploring while Terry, Dallas and I returned to the apartments, got changed and tackled the journey to Knowsley to meet up with David Roscoe at the City Learning Centre. We arrived an hour early so set off on a coffee hunt. This was a difficult hunt. We came across a golf club where we ordered a ham toasted sandwhich and coffee to be presented with 2 pieces of toast with cold ham in between and an instant coffee!

We turned up at the City Learning Centre to be met by David who was a lovely man who gave us over 3 hours of his time. He is overseeing the programme of reducing the 10 secondary schools in Knowsley to 7, the construction of 7 new schools on the sites, the appointment of the seven principals, their deputies and the teaching staff and, most importantly, the introduction of the new pedagogy that will need to be adopted by all to be able to teach in the new facilities. What an amazing project to lead!

He has overseen a lot of research to decide on what principles should drive the curriculum, the type of pedagogy that is necessary when guided by these principles, and the type of teaching spaces and furniture that is necessary. They are motivated by the kids' desire to be treated like VIPs and to have nice furniture. The principles and pedagogy they have decided on are remarkably similar to those identified in the NZ Curriculum. All we need now are the new buildings!

I'm even more determined to try to make the case for our school to be rebuilt. The limitations of our learning spaces will prove to be a barrier to delivering personalised learning.

We left there on a high totally confident we could make our way back to Liverpool and our digs. At the first intersection we found ourselves on the M62 heading further away from Liverpool. After quite a distance we were able to leave the M62 and rejoin it on the correct side and head back towards Liverpool.

However, once again we missed a key intersection in peak hour traffic and travelled around the block to find our apartment.

After a bit of a rest we headed in to town where we had a great Italian meal and planned the next day, our last full day in Liverpool. We plan to take the City Bus Tour, spend time at places of interest, take a 'Ferry On The Mersey' and then take a Beatles Tour ending at the Cavern. It is my desire to end the evening dancing to the Beatles in The Cavern. I hope to find some companions to do so.

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