Summer Activities Week

By Inés Hutchinson

It all started on the 8th of June 2015.

We walked through the Queen’s Gate doors all happy to see each other again and ready for the full week ahead. Activities Week began with UCAS talks from Dr Lee and from University College London, which helped us think about how to approach our university application form and write an effective personal statement.

Then Tuesday came. What a day! For me it began with Mr Mataya’s taxidermy course.  This involved two hours stuffing mice.  Not exactly what you might expect Queen’s Gate girls to do, but we embraced the challenge.  We all know the Art Department is full of surprises, but this was something I will never forget because my worst nightmares involve…MICE. While I took part in this, other girls did something less gruesome at the Avenue Cookery School, where I am sure there are no mice. These lucky girls made bread, quiche and chocolate roulade. They said it was great fun and that they learnt, and ate, a lot.

In the afternoon I went to the National Theatre where we had an exclusive backstage tour, which was amazing.  I never realised that there were so many different specialist working areas from costumes and props to lighting and staging at the National Theatre.  The afternoon was also good sport because we did so much walking.  However, it was so interesting and an experience that none of us would have wanted to miss.

After a day of mice, cooking and theatre, it was time for real-life drama and acute anxiety: a day without our phones at The Old Bailey, which of course for some was an eye opening experience. We queued outside to go through security, which was scarier than the airport. We then had the chance to listen to two court cases, which were fascinating and a very enriching experience. While most of the Sixth Formers in court, the girls studying English went to Keats House in Hampstead (with their phones). Here they were able to go on a tour of the house where the famous poet lived and worked and then experience the beautiful gardens of Hampstead.  Meanwhile, our aspiring Oxbridge applicants spent a whole day at Oriel College in Oxford which was a great way to get a feel for student life there.

Back at Queen’s Gate for the afternoon, most of us took part in the CommuniToy workshop where we were able to make and adapt toys. This made me feel like I was five again. I don’t know how it made Mr Mataya feel, but he seemed very happy as he stuck a baby doll’s head on a teddy bear…As usual, the Art Department lived up to its reputation for creating crazy and wonderful things!  Elsewhere, the Age UK Tea Dance took place in the Junior School, where girls talked and danced with old age pensioners and ate cupcakes.  They said it was a really fun afternoon and they enjoyed spending time with the visitors. Wednesday was a very busy day, there were so many activities taking place and we all had a fantastic time.

My favourite day was Thursday the 11th June – a day trip to the seaside town of Brighton. The sun was finally shining and we were all very happy. In the morning, we visited the Royal Pavilion which was very interesting and in the afternoon we went to the North Lanes where there are lots of good restaurants and arty shops. We also had the chance to go on The Brighton Wheel and visit the Sea Life Aquarium.  The shark wasn’t very big, or as scary as our toys, but I really had a great time!

Sadly the final day came on the Friday, when we spent the day at Queens Mary Sailing Club. We took part in many water sport activities; wind surfing, kayaking and sailing. It was funny watching people fall into the water.  I tried to avoid this, but it was inevitable and ended up falling in five times.  It was a fabulous day to end the week as we were all together and actually doing something sporty and enjoyable!

All I can say is that Activities Week was fantastic as we were able to spend time together as a whole year group without having to worry about school work or examinations; just what was needed after such a long period of study. Everyone had really had a great time and I am very grateful to Queen’s Gate and all the teachers for organising an unforgettable week.

Thank you very much!