We headed off for my first UK school visit at a beautiful school called Hornsby House in London right between Wandsworth Common and Balham Stations. I’ve learned a little about navigating the trains here and have to say that the Oyster card system seems to work really well, and like New York, the trains run on time and are very efficient.Hornsby House has recently had a lot of renovation and building work done and is quite perfectly formed, although on a small parcel of land, particularly compared to what we are used to in Australia. We were warmly welcomed by the Head of English, Mrs Parkin and the librarian, Mrs Courtney-Clack. The library is lovely and clearly a hub of the school. We had lunch with the students in their dining room which doubles as a multipurpose area.
I loved seeing how well the children utilized their playground space, playing all manner of ball games, chasings and other activities – and there wasn’t a collision or cross word spoken.
My first group was Year 4 and it was great to have the opportunity to find out what they knew about Australia and tell them a little about what I do back home. The children were very enthusiastic and when it came time to do some drama I laughed when the boy I selected to play the role of the tantrum throwing student turned out to be the twin brother of the girl who was playing the Alice-Miranda part!
Year 5 followed and were equally attentive and just as much fun. I only wished that I’d had longer with them. As we headed outside to meet Sue from The Golden Treasury Bookshop, the sun was shining – apparently for the first time in quite a while. I met a number of the parents who came to collect their children and purchased books. For those who had to head straight to sports and clubs, I signed additional stock which will be available to purchase at school.Hornsby House was a great way to start my time in London. The connection had come about through our Head of Junior School music at Abbotsleigh back at home. It was abundantly clear that Stephan had been a much loved member of the Hornsby House staff – with many teachers commenting on how greatly he was missed and how fortunate Abbotsleigh was to have him. I can only agree with that!
Emily and I caught the train back to Victoria Station and walked the short distance to the hotel. Ian and I then headed out for a walk in positively balmy conditions. We found the Random House building in Vauxhill Bridge Road – it looks like it might at one stage have housed the fire brigade on the lower levels but who knows. We continued along the river to the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben – which looked magnificent in the late afternoon sun. There was heavy security surrounding the area and roads blocked off. I heard someone mention that the Queen was giving a speech but I’m not sure if it was tonight. Perhaps. Westminster Abbey on the opposite side of the road is breathtaking – and next time I want to walk down there when the Abbey is still open.Last time we were in London we didn’t get to that area, so I was very glad to see it and on such a brilliant afternoon.