The first Bridgewater Prep trip abroad kicked off in fine style, with the coach taking us to Manchester airport having to make an immediate return to drop off the fuel card at the office. Fortunately, the excited youngsters had no idea as the coach made its way around Worsley before hitting the motorway.
On arrival at the airport , the cries of “follow the blue line” rang around Terminal 3 for the next hour, as 35 “Smurfs” snaked there way through customs and passport control. The admiring looks from fellow passengers greeted Bridgewater staff at every turn, or was it the look of sympathetic adults whose children have grown up and can now enjoy some time in sunny destinations? With nothing to declare we found our gate and set about the wait. The group were all split into their respective three teams and accompanied by a member of staff, visited that airport shopping metropolis -WH Smiths!
An array of crisps, chocolates, sweets, mints, drinks and the odd sandwich helped to ease the burden of having money to spend in a confined environment. Perhaps the biggest test faced by the children so far and maybe the greatest test of the tour… was walking past a crowded KFC and not going in!
After a delay of almost an hour, the Spanish marauders boarded the Ryan Air flight to Valencia. Unfortunately, Mr Altdorf found himself sat at the front of the plane and away from the crisps and chocolate buttons cascading around rows 20-30! The proximity to the toilet ensured that loneliness was not an issue as a steady stream of Bridgewater children came to pay a visit. The location also did not prevent the noise of 35 Bridgewater children drifting down to the front of the plane. The best part of the flight was not the sadly lacking in-flight entertainment, but the emergence of two food trolleys. The aroma of chicken nuggets, pizzas, chips and paninis proved too big a temptation to all those who were struggling to cope with the trauma of not going into KFC.
On arrival at Valencia airport, the blue line eased through passport control and collected baggage. The ‘spot the luggage’ game of roulette was amusing until those at the end started to fret as other cases arrived and theirs was yet to be seen. Thankfully, with all luggage securely back in owners’ hands, we marched into the Spanish evening sunset to meet our Inspiresport rep, Reiss or Lewis as he prefers to be called in Spanish.
A short journey through Valencia later and we arrived at our home for the next 5 days, Hotel Mas Camarena. With an evening meal on the table, the quite dining room of the hotel exploded into life as Bridgewater announced their arrival to unsuspecting guests.
All that remained of the day was to announce the eagerly anticipated room allocation and unpack.
Weeks and months of speculation and expectation is now a reality. Bridgewater Prep are in Valencia and ready to experience European football in one of the most spectacular training facilities in Spain. The Nevilles may well not have set Valencia alight with their short stint at the club, but something tells me Bridgewater Prep may take home some better memories!