On the flight I did watch a movie “Eddie the Eagle”. This was a great movie and appropriate to the exchange. Eddie is from the UK and all his life all he wanted was to be in the olympics. The sport didn’t matter, and well, he was kind of a cultz and failed at most. He eventually thought down hill skiing was his sport, but he didn’t make the Olympic team. He decided to try ski jumping as a last chance Olympic shot, as the UK did not have a Ski Jump program. He competed for the UK at the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics in Ski Jumping. Yes, the same olympics as the Jamacian Bobsled team, which also have their own movie. He quickly won over the fans having an okay jump but being ecstatic because it was a personal best, even though it didn’t measure up against others. He decided that if he wanted to be taken serious he was going to have to enter the 75m jump, something he had never attempted. He of course, did great and that is the birth of Eddie the Eagle.
I loved the UK/Canada connection as this exchange has a 70 year history, and started with just Canada and the UK.
Arriving into Heathrow was good for all of us, most did not realize just how big airports and airport terminals can get, and we were only seeing a small part of one of Heathrow’s terminals. It took us a long time to finally get to our luggage and meet up with our host; 3 lengthy bathroom breaks and a 75+ minute wait in the line at customs.
Eventually we meet up with some of the exchange staff that whisked us away to Brunel University. We had an easy day, which meant keeping ourselves busy and fighting the urge to sleep so that the effects of jet-leg were minimized.
Today we started with a bus ride to London which introduced us to the traffic struggles we’d face the rest of the week in London.
Our first visit was to the Parliment; House of Commons and House of Lords. This was a nice walking tour and fun to compare to our own in Ottawa which we toured just days before. Photos were not allowed inside.
From here we had lunch and then slowly made our way to the Royal Airforce Club. This slow meandering walk zig zagged us through the streets of London taking us by Westminster Abbey through Hyde Park by Buckingham Palace, the Canada Gate and Canada Memorial.
The RAF club was our introduction to the Brisish Upper Class. This private members only club is for current and retired airforce personal. The building was richly decorated with various painting, crests, and attention paid to every detail in true opulent style.
Here we did have tea and sandwiches while many of the countries got to meet someone from their air attaché. We meet Lieutenant-Colonel Tressa Home Assistant to the Canadian Air Attaché. She is an impressive woman and is a great role model for those of us on the exchange. I hope this visit reminded everyone that they are truly ambassadors of Canada and our cadet program.
From here we had dinner and made or way to the River Thmes for a river cruise and disco (dance). The cruise was great and the dance floor was bumping. I did have to make the first move to get people to join me on the floor, but after that the dancing didn’t stop.
Today was a little easier of a schedule. We started the day at the Imperial War Museum. Again a powerful museum showing that war is ugly. Unlike the Canadian War Museum, they did not have a ‘children’s area’ with comics and activities. I decided to start at the top and work my way down.
The Lord Ashworthy Collection is a collection of Vicotira Cross medals. The exhibit puts the medals on display along with pictures and stories of the accounts that led to the medal being presented.
From here I moved into the Holocaust exhibit. This was moving and touching, but so disturbing. I know these atrocities were real, and although maybe not on as big a scale, have happened before, are happening now and will happen again. Although I understand how Hitler came to power, maintained it, and managed to slaughter millions of people I st can’t fathom it. Nor can I fathom the fears of the Jewish people or the others who the Nazi regime targeted.
Afterwards I went into a gallery of peace movement pictures. I don’t think love and peace could have stopped Hitler or the Nazis, and a military solution was the only way to stop him before it was too late.
I rushed through the rest of the museum as I had spentmost of the time in the first two exhibits.
We spent the afternoon at the Tower of London. It was incredible to see the collections of the Crown Jewels. The Royal family has a long history through which they have collected these and other elements of their wealth.
I was disappointed with the Royal Beasts exhibit.
From here I went through the White Tower observing the armoury. The bloody tower and observed the fabled Ravens.
In the evening we stopped at Herrod’s for a shopping trip. All I had been told about Herrod’s was that it was an extravagant shopping centre. Quickly I realized just how extravagant it was. The £ 150 000 chess set was beautiful along with the rest of the merchandise we found on the 6 floors that we shopped on. It wasn’t until I saw the Egyptian motif while we were on our way out, down the central ‘staircase’ that I realized it is named after King Herrod who lived a life of wealth and extravagance.
I didn’t know what to think when the only thing on the schedule for today was a visit to the Royal Aeronautical Society.
The society was founded in January 1866 for, “the advancement of Aerial Navigation and for Observations in Aerology connected therewith”. While hot air balloons had been commonplace in Europe since the second half of the 18th century, the newly established society had loftier goals, and was already considering the possibility of powered flight in vehicles heavier than air.
This building was again opulent and stately. Our visit started with tea.
From here we moved into an updated lecture theatre to find out our day was sponsored by Lockheed Martin. After a couple good speeches and addresses including an address from the Head of Communications of Lockheed Martin on the companies innovations and commitment to advancing research and knowledge in advancing the power of flight. Somewhere throughout these presentations we learnt that the goal of the day was a competition where we were to design, build, modify, fly and market a new aircraft using rubber band model glider kits and other supplies in international teams. This was a great hands on project that not only allowed the cadets to meet new people and work in a team but also allowed them to employ their knowledge and skills in an authentic task.