Soham Grammarians/Ely High School 1905-1972
Trip to Europe, August 1964

This page shows reports from both school's magazines

from the Summer 1965 Soham Grammarian


Months of planning, minute organisation and timing were suddenly shattered when, with an explosion like a rifle shot, a sudden blinding of the German scenery and a final crash, we found that we were minus die Windschutzcheibe. It was a draughty ride from Bonn to Koblenz but there was slight compensation as it afforded opportunity to spend the next morning in the delightful grape-laden Mosel valley.

Telephone calls back to Cambridge brought a new windscreen on the morning plane to Mainz; a two hundred mile dash to collect it, and severe bullying of German garage-hands (once we had found anyone willing to miss the Saturday afternoon football), and we were off on our next day's programme - in the late evening!

[Jon Evans SG'61' added in April 2020 that he was reading the In Memoriam page for Peter Askem. There, Dick Bozeat recalled a coach trip to Italy in 1964 and asked if anyone had a picture of the coach. My wife Jean (née Williams) was on that trip. Here is a picture of the said coach with broken windscreen (surprisingly in colour!). I don’t recall the boy in the picture but he may have been a year above me.  I never knew about the trip until I met my wife some 4 or 5 years later. It would appear that this is the only photo remaining from that trip.

David Camps SG60 thought it was Bryan Lowe SG60, a great friend of Michael Yeomans SG60. Michael has confirmed it is Bryan, who died in 2011: "I have never seen that photo before. Bryan had that unique face and grin. I will never forget him. "]

An unexpected night on the road and a morning arrival in the Medieval heart of Innsbruck, at about the time we should have left it. More long distance telephone calls to other countries and the decision was made to spend the morning in the delightful sunshine and mountain scenery of the Inn valley.

No Geographer has his education complete unless he has seen the dramatic, highly colourful needles of the Dolomites reaching far overhead and into the heavens. White glaciers pouring from the summits with puffs of angry cloud reluctantly nosing for ways into the next valley—a breathtaking experience.

Forty tired travellers arrived in what must be the most fantastic city in Europe, if not in the entire world. Not one of us having been before and not one really knowing what to do next. How do you swim, fully clothed and with a couple of suitcases, to your hotel at midnight? One of the girls in the party indicated her dismay with a timely faint!

The colour and splendour of Venice captivated every heart. A living stage-set of canals, palaces, gigantic churches and (together with every Italian city) artistry hand in hand with history on every front doorstep. We sailed up the Grand Canal, visited St. Mark's, and aretreated with the determination to come again. On through lovely old towns with Renaissance-sounding names such as Siena, Bologna and so to Florence, perhaps in itself the largest and most exciting museum in the world. Michelangelo sculpture on street corners, galleries of the most famous paintings in the world, evidence of the beauties of the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries in every church and palace, facade and tower. Every Italian city has its own horrifying traffic problem, but after a few days most of us learned to cross roads with a minimum of our attire left on an already distant vehicle; others just kept to the block, not daring to venture. Oh for the quiet canals and footpaths of Venice!

The Eternal City, or City of Infernal Din, as we learned to call Rome, greeted us with temperatures of 113°F. The first objective was St. Peter's Cathedral, with its art treasures and wide panoramic views for the hardy mountaineer brave enough to climb to the top of the dome—and its extensive museums and Sistine Chapel for those prepared to hike. Next, a rush to the ruined remains of Ancient Rome: temples, arches, arenas, columns—and cats. There followed an underworld visit to the Catacombs, then to the Appian Way and the Olympic city; a dip in the Mediterranean; a pleasant wander over the ancient seaport ruins and lovely Roman mosaic floors of Ostia; another excursion to the vast and serene ruins of a villa—once Hadrian's ; the Villa d'Este at Tivoli, with its gardens of sparkling fountains and haunting memories. With a last look at the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps, we made our way to Pisa, where we spent the night in a luxury hotel on the safe side of the Tower. The view from the hotel doorway was nasty to those of us who may have had wine with our dinner!

Of the last three days, over the wooded Cisa Pass to industrial Milan, by the mist-covered Italian lakes, high through Switzerland and low through France, one's memory clings most dearly to the solemn beauty of the Simplon Pass. Pale blue and purple in their distant and mighty beauty are the mountains rising in every direction the eye can glimpse.

Forty weary but happy travellers returned safely to their homes, an artistic pilgrimage complete.


P.S. The party was made up of Mr and Mrs PJ Askem, Mr and Mrs RG Bozeat, and seventeen boys from Soham Grammar School; Miss H Stanyer, with seventeen girls from Ely High School; and Miss J Firth, SGS Nurse.

from the Ely High School magazine, 1965

Giovani Festegganti Viaggiano Al Sole
(Young Holidaymakers' journey to the Sun)

On August 20th, 1964, a party comprising our girls together with boys from Soham Grammar School, accompanied by Miss Stanyer, Mr and Mrs Askem, Mr and Mrs Bozeat and Miss Firth set off for a coach tour which was to take us as far as Italy. We were to travel through Belgium, Germany and Austria to Italy on the outgoing journey and return through Switzerland, France and back into Belgium. The weather, as practically always when one is leaving the country, was glorious, and spirits were high as we travelled the first stage of our journey to Dover.

It seemed absolutely ages, especially for impatient and anxious holidaymakers, until we finally climbed on board ship bound for Ostend. The crossing, as those accustomed "sea-dogs" found it obligatory to inform the more queasy, was "the calmest they had ever made". Partly through curiosity (for those who did not wish to waste time sleeping), and partly through lack of seats, the majority of us spent the time up on the top deck, in an icy blast, with a transistor radio.

It was five minutes past three when we disembarked at Ostend, each one of us longing for the warmth of the coach and a little sleep, which, incidentally, few of us enjoyed. Nevertheless, refreshed at the thought of breakfast, our first continental breakfast, we prepared to stop in Brussels. Not unduly enchanted by its dirty buildings, at their worst in the bleak early morning air, we once again set off, this time for Cologne, where we had dinner before travelling through Koblenz, along the Rhine and Moselle valley to Brodenbach.

The whole of our journey went very smoothly, except for one unfortunate mishap on the road to Koblenz when a loose stone smashed the windscreen of our coach. We arrived at Brodenbach (all very nicely cooled by the wholesome breeze rushing through the front window), where we spent a comfortable night. In the morning we bought souvenirs and ventured out to explore, thankful for the extra time that the broken window afforded us. It was five o'clock, some eight hours later than we had planned, when having finally found means of mending the window, we started out for Austria, travelling all night to make up for lost time. We briefly visited Innsbruck, where we stayed for a very late breakfast and early lunch before journeying through the picturesque Dolomites to Venice.

Arriving at midnight, tired and hungry, we were thankful that our linguists were able to arrange a meal for us. And what a meal it was! Most of us dropped out on the first lap and left a few of the braver ones to tackle the rest, so as not to appear ungrateful for the food we had so earnestly requested! In Venice we were able to do our first real sightseeing, taking a boat down one of the canals to Saint Marco where we gazed at the magnificent church of Saint Mark and the Doge's Palace, amid the thronging crowds and pigeons.

Our next destination was Florence, where we stayed for two days, generally exploring the city and buying the fascinating foreign souvenirs. I might add that a large part of our money was spent on assorted iced drinks in a desperate effort to keep cool.

From Florence we journeyed to Rome, which was to be our home for the following three days. We thoroughly enjoyed our time here, with, for the girls' part, excellent food and living quarters and an exceptionally congenial and helpful host and hostess. During our stay here we visited different parts of the city; I believe everyone saw St. Paul's, the Colosseum and the Trevi Fountains, all beautifully floodlit at night. We made excursions to the Catacombs, Hadrian's Villa (we were all longing to dive into his swimming pool) and the fountains at Tivoli, as well as the ancient harbour of Ostia and the west coast where we enjoyed a dip in the Mediterranean. The temperature was about 92°F. in the shade during the whole of our stay in Rome, and this trip to the "sea-side" was a long awaited treat.

We left Rome on the morning of Sunday, 30th August, for Pisa, where we had great fun running ... running ... walking ... trudging round the steps of the leaning tower of Pisa. At Milan, our next stop, we viewed the splendid Cathedral, at that time in repair, and some of us saw the very modern railway station. Setting off very early the following morning of the 1st September, we travelled through the most breathtaking, refreshing scenery of Switzerland. To us in England it is a sight not to be missed, with its peaks towering from the valleys, capped by a shimmering layer of snow glistening in the clear sunlight under a radiantly blue heaven.

After a short break for lunch at Brigue we continued to Dijon in France, where after the evening meal, John Wade and myself proposed a vote of thanks to Miss Stanyer, Miss Firth and Mr Askem and presented them with powder compacts and a set of wine glasses respectively, bought in Rome. Early the next day we made our way through Rheims to Ostend in preparation for our second channel crossing. After a few hours' interval we boardedthe ship in plenty of time to secure a comfortable seat, for none of us wanted a repetition of our previous experience. After a comparatively swift journey, we reached home just after dinner on Thursday, September 3rd.

I cannot say what was the opinion of the rest of the party, but speaking personally, our holiday, my first visit to the Continent, will remain for me a memorable experience. It has inspired in me an urge to see the rest of the world, a dream which I hope to realise in the not too distant future.


Page created 5 Jan 2010: updated 7 Dec 10: 21 Apr 20: 2 May 20
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