During half term, 46 boys from Years 8 and 9 spent a week skiing in Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland, with Mrs Fletcher, Mr James, Mr Goodall, Mr Kohout and former staff member Miss Smith. Once fitted with boots and skis, the boys were keen to venture out on the slopes in Wengen. A very interesting torchlight walk gave the group an insight into the history and background of the ‘Valley of 72 Waterfalls’. This was followed by a hot meal and chocolate brownies, which was very welcome after the cold night air. Ice skating appealed to some of the boys and a lively quiz night was won by team ‘PHIL’ who played consistently well in all rounds.
All ski groups progressed in the excellent snow conditions and special mention goes to James Beagley (Year 8) who, by the end of the week, was tackling red slopes and parallel skiing on his first ever ski trip! Nicholas Cowen (Year 8) was the most improved in the elite squad, Jack Blackwell (Year 9) in the advanced group, William Baird (Year 9) in intermediates and Oliver Bluck (Year 8) in the lower intermediates.
For the ski squad, the trip provided valuable training in preparation for the Inter-schools Ski challenge in Les Houches, which is being held on Monday 18 and Tuesday 19 March. The squad will have two further training sessions at Hemel Hempsted before the event.
Also during half term, 23 linguists from Years 9, 10 and 11, accompanied by Mrs Smart, Mrs Wilson and Mr Reader, set off to explore Madrid. The programme provided something for everyone, beginning with a trip to El Prado museum where the students saw magnificent works by Velázquez, Goya and El Greco, as well as many famous paintings by great masters from other European countries. They marvelled at the opportunity to see ‘Las Meninas’ and they each noted their favourite works to describe in Spanish and share with the other members of the group. The students were also taken to Toledo, the former capital of Spain, until Felipe Segundo relocated to Madrid. They learned about the ‘damasquino’ craft, whereby metal is inlaid with gold to make beautiful ornate jewellery and weaponry. Segovia was equally fascinating, the impressive Roman aqueduct dominated the city and the visit to the Alcázar Palace and its tower afforded the opportunity to enjoy a panoramic view of the entire valley. Spanish lessons reinforced the linguistic value of the trip.