Thank God It's Friday

13th June 1997 at 01:00
Monday: I start the week with an aching back, stiff legs and a fantasy about lying flat on a bed. We've arrived at the FrenchSpanish border in a rancid-smelling coach that has safely delivered us from Coventry in 24 hours flat. At Dover one of our less gifted charges said she'd been abroad before.

"Where?" "Skegness."

For a year there have been worries, excitement and questions about the decision to take three dozen 12 and 13-year-olds to the Costa Brava. In the staffroom we've had jokes about going "on holiday" in term time, but now we're here my three colleagues seem reconciled to a week of cultural and social activity.

Tuesday: Breakfast it is. Filling and satisfying it is not. But to their credit Year 8 do not complain too loudly about the bread roll, hot chocolate and early hour. Staff make a considerable killing on unused marmalade sachets. Montserrat is superb, even though at least nine children want to buy key-rings and another six "have to have" that 500 peseta Madonna souvenir.

Packed lunch makes breakfast seem memorable, but one colleague has brought a vast jar of pickle to enliven the bread and cheese. Brilliant.

Wednesday: Barcelona, and the Sagrada Familia stuns those with eyes to see, as does the Nou Camp stadium. The Ramblas is for caricatures and photography or, if you are Sean, whose life to date has been uninterrupted by travel of any kind, for nervously attaching yourself to any teacher in sight until he climbs aboard the coach for the journey back. There's dinner, a quiz and that horribly early bedtime which we terrible teachers impose (11 pm).

Thursday: Salvador Dali is "well wicked". This is my fourth trip with children to visit the exhibition at Figueres, which never fails to impress. From Jean, who is of university calibre, to Simon, who thinks Cambridge exists only because it once employed Dion Dublin as its striker, the sculptures, paintings and architecture affect them in a way no book, video or teacher ever can.

Friday: The week's nearly over, but there's Waterworld - also known as Wallyworld - still to conquer. Cloudless skies means some in our party look like vino rosado despite lashings of suntan lotion and teachers' warnings about melanomas and sunstroke.

One more night in Spain, one more breakfast, no more money for James who would have spent every peseta if we hadn't acted as his banker, and 36 sets of parents back at base. Some even said thank you.

Derek Raishbrook teaches in the Midlands

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