Friday, 8 January 2010

The School Trip

Would you like carbon with that sir?
My favourite school trip1, ever, was a day out at Heathrow Airport, followed by a tour of Southampton Container Port.

Aeroplanes! Back then they had propellers, two sets of wings and frequent prangs with airships. And bombs.

Then containers! Thousands of them! As far as the eye could see! Full of exotic stuff like trousers, transistor radios and illegal immigrants. How could you not like containers?

All this for three quid, with a pork pie, a curly-wurly and a bottle of Corona for lunch. Magic.

How times have changed. No. 2 Daughter, AKA the garrulous MiniGrump, has just booked herself on her school's latest trip. They're spending ten days or so in sunny Thailand. Yes, Thailand. We have remortgaged Grumpy Towers and sold off a few superfluous organs to pay for it, so she's off!

Why Thailand? She's studying Buddhism. Therefore it makes absolute sense to head to the heart of Buddhism, right? Let's tease that logic out. She's studying French. Are they planning a sensible day jaunt to Calais, where they can also stock up on cheap booze and unpasteurised cheese? No. She's studying art. Are they popping up to the National Gallery to look at Great Art, or Tate Modern to look at blank walls and building materials posing as Great Art? No.

So what's behind the tour of places exotic? After attending the parent's talk I got to the bottom of it. It turns out the kiddies on the trip must be accompanied by teachers at a ratio of five to one. And are those teachers paying? What do you think? They told us they'll be working the whole time. I suppose someone has to keep them away from the drugs and the ladyboys. Nice work if you can get it, eh?

But economics aside it looks pretty fabulous. She gets to ride on an elephant! Learn Thai dancing! Ride the uniquely polluted rivers of Bangkok! Be bitten by strange and ferocious insects! She can't help gloating at us but I remind her that she's never had a whole morning out at Heathrow. At least not without actually taking a flight. Ha.

But the kicker is this. One of the teachers stood up at the end and said, in the spirit of Copenhagen, they want to offset their carbon emissions for the trip. They're going to invest in a marijuana farm in the Gambia or something, which will absorb simply heaps of CO2. To that end, could we all cough up an extra thirty pounds?

Hold on. Reduce emissions like this: visit the perfectly nice Buddhist temple in Morecambe Bay. They can stay there for a week. That way they avoid the enormous aeroplane and the luxury layover in Dubai. I suggested it and got a frosty 'no'. No explanation given, but I suspect it's because there aren't many elephants there, and it's not very sunny in Morecambe Bay in February.

So Thailand it is. But they can take their thirty pounds and shove it where the sun don't shine. And I don't mean the fridge.

1 - And it was my only ever school trip, so by definition it was my favourite.


  1. Tut, tut! Kids of today - they just don't know how lucky they are! Back in my day, we were sent down the's true, one of my school days out was a trip to a nickel mine in eastern Zimbabwe. Best school trip was to the Coca Cola factory, with drink as much as you can. Worst was a 3-day camping/survival course...spent the whole time worrying about getting eaten by a lion or hyena...or giant spider!

  2. Does this trip include free prostitution? Because I'd pay the extra money if that was inclusive.

  3. Nat ~ Nickel mine! Coke! Hyenas! Sign me up

    Moooooog ~ Yes, but your gorgeous lady of the evening will turn out to have meat and two veg to put yours to shame. Not that I've tried it or anything

  4. Money has to change hands (perhaps not a great choice of phrase) for it to be prostitution. I think that it's called something else if it's free.

    Who said 'marriage'?

  5. Sounds very...posh.
    We went where ever the school bus could take us.

  6. You are getting too soft Uber. Thirty quid! Pshaw. Tell your child that we are in a global recession and she can instead go to Tie Rack - it's Buddhism in action - bad karma.

  7. Aahh how things have changed. A visit to the airport - kids these days don't know what they are missing. Mind you, you must have been a spoilt child judging by your packed lunch. We got a warm egg sandwich (no mayo), a flat can of coke and a packet of hula hoops if we were lucky.

  8. Sheesh. The best trip we ever had was a trip to the frackin' zoo. Yee haw!

  9. No. 2 Daughter? I didn't think you'd told Mrs G about the first one.

  10. Lol! I know what you mean! We had school trips to Iceland, and France. Both, I may say, were absolutely fantastic, and no trouble was caused. But we did get into a spot of bother in Iceland for buying purses that were made from seal-pup skin!
    But then, I married, and travelled around Europe even more! Loved every minute of it!

  11. I think school trips are totally over the top!!! Probably because I an jealous...

  12. Sounds high society (and not in reference to high society the gentlemen's mag).

  13. We went to Alton Towers. I threw up.

  14. HOLD UP! My school took me to a FISH HATCHERY! Yes, to gawk at horny fishes trying to jump over blocks of concrete in very ugly rectangular holding ponds in search of other horny fishes. And it was cold and we couldn't go swimming lest anyone get accosted by a horny fish.

    My lucky younger brother got to tour McDonald's AND the fish hatchery. I didn't to tour McDonald's.

    Why do you save yourself a bundle of money, buy a limp hamburger and stand the kid in front of a koi pond? I'm sure that's very zen, exotic and educational all in one!

    *grumble, grumble* THAILAND? kids these days have no idea

  15. Um, no, I'm not coughing up another thirty anything to offset carbon emissions. If they are that concerned, don't go.

    Huh. You guys get Corona across that big pond?


  16. I hear you about the 30 quid. Last time I bought a computer they wanted to charge me $20 or something as a "recycling fee". When it had reached the end of its natural life, I think I was supposed to return it to them (at great personal expense) for them to recycle it.

    Good bloody god, don't they get it? I'll do my bit for the environment. I'll cut down on heating, recycle glass and paper... but I won't pay for the privilege! No, they can bleedin' well come and pay me $20 as a thank you for doing it at all!

    Ahem. Sorry, went off on a bit of a rant there. :)

  17. DOB ~ marriage isn't free, it's just charged for on a permanent basis

    JenJen ~ You live in the US. You could take a bus to Argentina if you wanted.

    BP ~ Soft! I've never bought a tie from Tie Rack, or a knicker from Knickerbox

    PW ~ Yeah, but Hula Hoops are good

    MiMi ~ What did they frack there?

    GW ~ *ahem*

    Alice ~ Keep travelling, girl...

    JP ~ Me too :(

    JennyMac ~ It is!

    Dan ~ I normally throw down when at Alton Towers, alas

    QQ ~ Fish farm, eh? Novel

    RefGeek ~ Not any more. New Labour outlawed it, along with Blake's 7 and Thunderbirds

    Richard ~ bastards! Just chuck it off a cliff, mate

  18. Aeroplanes. Loved 'em but waaay too poor to justify even passing an airport for many years.

    I do remember goggling away at the Intercity 125 from Bristol to Bath though. It wasn't the same.

  19. ERRRR, I'm a bit confused here by your comment! Do you mean that I'm not to comment here again? You know that I get confused easily. I went to Iceland on a school cruise, and France by coach and ferry. The only times I have ever flown was to America and Spain.
    We will have to talk about this tomorrow! I am very confused!

  20. Wow, a school trip to Thailand sounds incredibly wonderful, and expensive enough without a carbon offset fee. Don't they need parent chaperons? You, too, could ride elephants and check out Buddhist temples.

  21. Oh for the simple days...

  22. Matthew ~ Intercity 125s! Brings me right back

    Alice ~ Eh? You're my top commenter! Keep them coming! I just meant 'keep travelling round Europe'.

    Blissed-out G ~ Alas I checked; no chaperones required

    wasa3 ~ Indeed!

  23. 'Kids these days' do have names. And the £30 was OPTIONAL -

    Left to choice; not compulsory or automatic."

    -so there's no need to throw your rattle out the pram, UberGrumpy.

    And, for your information, we did go on a day trip to the Tate. It was very educational and boring, which obviously meant that it was beneficial to my A-Levels. And I won't cry if you send me to France for the day. Promise.

  24. um REALLY? OK I'm new here but how old is this kid?

  25. Quite - what's wrong with Morcambe?

    I am completely against exotic travel for school age children.

    They should learn to work and pay for those sort of trips as adults if they want them. To have them at an age where they take everything for granted and never learn the value of delayed gratification is to set a dangerous and ultimately disappointing precendent for the remainder of their lives. If they have all the highlights of life when young - what do they have left to aspire to?

    Though personally Thailand strikes me as a pretty tacky destination and I certainly wouldn't fork out thousands for the privilege of going there, let alone send any offspring.

  26. Ok, I suppose complaining about my kids school trip to Disneyland is useless after this.

  27. nominated you for the 2010 weblog award.

  28. Requests for money are hiding behind good intentions!

  29. Mini ~ All right! Chip off the old block

    MODG ~ Sassy 17. I'm very proud

    Laura ~ Quite right too

    Marla ~ Can I come?

    Sarah ~ Thank you! What's that?

    Secretia ~ Demands, more like. Sigh

  30. I went to China as part of a school trip in 1985, which I very much appreciate slightly more now that I can see china through more mature eyes. I'd like to go again.

    And I had to raise half the $2000 it cost to go, so I did work for it a bit, although I am sure many of my classmates did not.

  31. Raise half the cost! Now that's smart. Isn't it Mini?

  32. HOLY CRAP!! All my kids get is a trip to Ottawa for grade 7 and Quebec for grade 8!!! Please keep in mind that we live in Hamilton, Ontario...Not so far away and not so much of a culture change I think;)