KEYS on the Strand – By Sade Douglas

The day of the much awaited “On the loose with literature” trip finally arrived last week after months of preparation by our English tutor, Rae and the rest of the team. It was a great opportunity to introduce the Sydenham bunch to the Deptford crew and to get the students familiar with each other.


We left Deptford and travelled to Waterstones by public transport, where we all met up in the bookshop’s coffee shop. Teams were allocated whilst I drank a large mocha and the students sipped hot chocolates to warm up-yum!


The competition started as soon as we had finished and the kids were armed with their completed quizzes, a camera phone and a responsible adult of course.


Let the games begin…


The aim was to use the information that they had researched on their quizzes and then find specific books within the bookshop and provide the required proof; the team which got back first and with the most correct answers would win a prize.


Shelly-Ann returned first with her pictures and completed sheet in hand, confident she was going to win, shortly followed by Sky and then the others-  but who was to win?


Whilst the scores were collated by Rae and Darren, we all headed to Trafalgar Square for lunch. Although Black History Month had passed, Catherine directed us to some of the statues on the square depicting black figures. This I found interesting! Despite not really knowing much about the history of Trafalgar Square, I was still amazed that there was a statue of a black person in central London especially after Britain’s involvement in slavery.


We sat down for lunch and the kids made new friends; ‘Bob’ the pigeon and ‘Steve’ the seagull! I didn’t realize there were so many pigeons in Central London and to make matters worse the kids kept dropping food which kept them coming to our area. The highlight was Josh’s commentary on the pigeons trying to eat a Malteaser- it made the experience all that bit more enjoyable.


Catherine had a little surprise for us in store at the Chinese Community Centre, but on the way there we stopped to watch the diablo performance. It was so entertaining, even Darren got involved. There were sword juggling, extra-long yoyo tricks and a really high unicycle which needed two people to hold it for the performer to get on. The kids were intrigued by how the statue (a human being with an incredible ability to sit still) was supported above the ground (which Sky ruined by explaining to me how the trick worked; I thought it was magic! We then we headed to the Chinese Centre around the corner.


When we got there, we were greeted by Perry Fung who took us around the building and explained to us that the Chinese, also an ethnic minority in Britain, would come here to seek help. We toured the different rooms where we saw people playing traditional Chinese chess, painting and learning to play Chinese instruments. They were so accommodating to us and even allowed the kids to help themselves to as many fortune cookies they could hold in both hands which they did liberally.


We rounded off the day in the meeting room with Perry testing the children’s knowledge of China and Darren announcing the winners of the competition and awarding them with their prize.


It was a long day and a great success as both staff and students alike enjoyed themselves and I can safely say we all learnt something new – or at least I did!