Southborough C of E Primary School

News from Madrid

22ND May 2018

Buzzing with excitement Team Madrid 2018 boarded the coach, day 1 of our much anticipated trip had finally arrived; cameras were in action non stop, the children’s mini electric fans keeping them cool as they whiled away the journey sucking boiled sweets... and that was all before we’d even got out of Southborough!  

With Southborough caps securely on heads and ID lanyards surgically attached (metaphorically, for the next four days), we began the challenge of getting the team checked in and through security. As usual, the children’s behaviour and manners were excellent and this was once again commended by airport staff and members of the public. Even when the extremely ‘blingy’ Monnine set off the security scanner due to the vast metal content in her sequin covered shoes and top, she took it in good humour as she entered the body scanner; fortunately the security officer was happy that the sequins were to blame and Monnine was allowed out of the country.

Although takeoff was delayed, the children were in good spirits by the time we were airborne and the plane was filled with exuberant whoops of joy as we left the runway. Next, it was down to the important business of inflight dining as the children munched  through their huge packed lunches, I think between them they could have easily fed the entire plane and crew!

Before long, we began to make our descent into Madrid, the children were fascinated by the thought of actually being in the clouds, we admired spectacular snow-capped hills and revised our geographical knowledge of rivers thanks to some awesome aerial views of the Spanish countryside. Having cleared passport control and immigration smoothly, we boarded the coach to El Escorial.

After about 45minutes of chilling on the coach, the children suddenly had a surge of adrenaline as they caught their first, real life glimpse of the UNESCO world heritage site that will be home this week. Children were literally gasping in awe as the magnificent palace became even more mind-blowing the closer we got. We even got a sneaky peak of the ‘Valley of the Fallen’ and the towering cross on the hillside, but more about that when we properly visit it on Thursday. Soon we were approaching the imposing front door of the Collegio, “Wow, no one told me I was visiting a real life Hogwarts”, commented Luka. Maia exclaimed, “This is totally sick!”. It’s fair to say they were impressed.

Having checked into our rooms with the boys unpacking more toiletries than a branch of Boots, it was then time for a little stroll to the village. Special mention to Dan for really practising his Spanish speaking skills; Mrs Heller was very proud. Appetites worked up, we enjoyed a dinner of pumpkin soup with gammon, salad, crusty bread and fruit. We’d had a high tea of sandwiches and cake just a few hours before, so rest assured all the children have been well fed.

Tired but happy, everyone settled quickly after a brilliant day.

Mrs Bootle and the Madrid team




Day 2 - 23rd May 2018

A very Happy 11th birthday to Isobel I, who received a rousing rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ in both Spanish and English at breakfast this morning. 

Children and adults slept well and were raring to go this morning and since we’re living in a palace, it was only right that we breakfasted like kings, feasting on: eggs, bacon, sausage, cheese, cold meats, toast, jam, cereal, chocolate milk and a range of fruit juices. Fuelled up, teeth brushed, water bottles filled and sun cream on, we were ready for a day of sightseeing in Madrid. We strolled up to the bus station to get our coach for the 45 minute trip into the centre of the city. Mrs Heller distributed a ‘helpful phrases’ crib sheet and the Southborough pupils’ love of learning shone through as they diligently practised their key phrases; well done to Gryff, Finlay and JJ who rehearsed their Spanish sentences for the entire journey, no doubt they wanted to be doubly sure that their requests for ice cream would be fully understood by the Madrid shopkeepers.
As the Madrid city skyline came into view, excitement rose - ‘Fortnite’ has been a hot topic of conversation this trip and James, Zak, Krishh and many others were able to relate just about every historic Madrid landmark to a ‘Fortnite’ location - who knew that Tilted Towers and Tomato Town were inspired by 15th century Spanish architects. Apologies if you don’t have an 11 year old who’s hooked on this game, but if you do then apparently the main clock tower is definitely the same as the one in Madrid! 

As we took a leisurely walk in the late morning sunshine though the city centre, our very sensible children took good care of their rucksacks, with Jacob taking on the role of security/bodyguard and reminding his friends to keep bag zips securely shut. We stopped off at a traditional caraiceria (deli) in the centre of Madrid and ordered huge baguettes filled with the children’s choice of Serrano ham, chorizo and cheese. Once again some great translating by our year 6s when deciding what they wanted to eat. All this made for a delicious lunch in the royal gardens, accompanied by Spanish crisps and lots of water. We admired the stunning palace and picturesque gardens, and saw the magnificent mounted calvary guards. In Plaza Major it was retail heaven for our little shopaholics, ‘fans & fridge magnets ‘R us!’ Whilst some future candidates for The Apprentice show, shrewdly sought out the best value ice cream vendors, Luke and our tycoon tourists saved a small fortune with their bargain hunting.


Many children were desperate to get to the zoo to see their favourite animals, the pandas and dolphins proved to be particularly popular and we have a small menagerie of stuffed, cuddly animals coming home with us as mementos. Raouf thought the pandas were cute and lived up to his expectations. Maisie loved seeing the exotic animals and is a big fan of lemurs, it was a no brainer for her when deciding what to buy in the gift shop and Josh purchased a wonderful dolphin to add to his one from Dubai. The birds of prey display saw children captivated by these incredible creatures, especially when the bald headed eagle swooped down, just narrowly missing Charlie’s head. Finlay was feeling lucky too after a low flying duck deposited something on his head (fortunately he had his Southborough baseball cap on) and Miss Haynes received an unwanted gift on her leg, from a stork. Thankfully the wet wipes were close at hand!


Once back at the Collegio, we had a quick pit stop to freshen up before dinner. We dined on a tapas style starter of Spanish pate on toast, followed by roast meat with onion rings and crusty bread. Plates were cleared and we had a fruit desert with a special cake to celebrate Isobel’s birthday. Special mention to Poppy, Izzy R and Jasmine for being so helpful with the clearing up and to Carys for keeping her roommates organised and on time.

After dinner it was time for some team point awards, the competition is hotting up, so stay tuned for an update tomorrow on the state of play. 

Adios amigos x





Thursday 24th May   - Day 3

Well, we certainly all had a good night’s sleep last night with the children oblivious that it had rained heavily overnight and most needing a morning wake up call. Lexi got her roommates off to a great start with team points awarded for a very tidy bedroom. Mrs Heller’s team currently hold the coveted top spot but Miss Haynes and Mrs Norman are snapping at their heels.

Samuel and James were pleased that another huge breakfast feast was on offer, with a full range of cooked and continental options available once again, plus a new addition of warm croissants which were quickly devoured.


At 9am sharp we were ready for our tour of the chorister school, usually only the staff and pupils are allowed here. This was a first in all the years that we’ve visited El Escorial and we were in for a special treat, our tour with the King’s choristers was a once in a lifetime experience. These phenomenally talented singers gave us a behind the scenes tour and commentary of what life’s like for them. The surroundings were utterly jaw dropping because this very special part of the school is privately owned by the King and the fixtures and fittings are the equivalent of being grade one listed. Ornate chandeliers, exquisite  manuscripts with ancient illuminated lettering adorn the pristine white walls and beautiful, priceless paintings are found everywhere you look, some have even been given to the school as special gifts from the King. Maddison and Isobel H loved the boarders’ gaming room with its climbing wall and Xbox station, but Braiden  and Finn thought it might be hard because the choristers are only allowed to watch two films a week and there’s no tv at all. Throughout the visit, Amelia showed her dedication to Spanish as she carried her school Spanish exercise book everywhere and all the adults have been really impressed with the children’s confidence when conversing in Spanish. We toured the numerous music practice rooms as not only are the choristers globe trotting singers but many are also accomplished pianists and violinists. A couple of months ago they sang in Moscow, in the autumn they’re off to China and tomorrow, they’ll be singing for the King. But today.... they sang for us! Mrs Dooley and I couldn’t help but get a little glassy eyed as we listened in admiration to the angelic voices. Izzy J thought the performance was amazing and couldn’t believe the crystal clear high notes that the boys could sing. Our cathedral visit over, it was time for a break with our pen pals.


Playtime on the palace courtyard with an obligatory game of Spain v England football was followed by the children chilling out with their pen friends for a cultural Q and A session about life and school. Then we had a pupil led tour of the main school which was founded in the 16th century! The highlight was the school’s very own natural history museum with a plethora of animals, birds and fish from around the world. Lunch with our Spanish friends was filled with lots of laughter and chatter, followed by more playtime games, Spanish style of course.


Our late afternoon excursion to the Valley of the Fallen was just a short coach ride away; approaching this incredible monument, the tallest cross in the world, the children were yet again awestruck but Nia had us in hysterics as she inexplicably and repeatedly failed to glimpse the colossal cross through the trees. Kaitlin on the other hand, had better observation skills and exclaimed, “whoa, that’s massive!!!” Mr Dix, who’s a history buff, gave us all a brilliant talk about Franco and the history behind the basilica, Alisha was shocked that 40,000 nationalist and republican soldiers are buried there as they died during the construction. Once inside the coolness of the basilica Thomas was struck by the silent calm and the incredible echo at the slightest sound.


Back in El Escorial the children had time for some final souvenir shopping in the village and an ice cream. Maisie, Sophie H and Izzy J were big fans of the delicious vanilla cones, the perfect end to another fantastic day.

Our final dinner was enjoyed, which means that our wonderful trip is beginning to draw to a close. Sophie C said it’s been a really fun week and Hannah says that the current Year 5s must go next year.

See you all soon!