Students traded meadows for the metropolis yesterday as they travelled to London. Few dreaming spires here — the London skyline is wide awake and alert, asserting itself ever anew after fire and war. Its latest phase is one of thoroughly modern, even futurist, structures such as the Gherkin, the Shard, and the Walkie-Talkie.
Students took the opportunity to explore Covent Garden, the historical hub of culture of all kinds. Originally settled in the 7th century as part of the Anglo-Saxon trading town of Lundenwic, but abandoned in the 9th century, Covent Garden really started to take shape in the 17th century, when a fruit and vegetable market opened in the square. The market attracted traders and entertainers of all stripes, including the street performers it is still known for today — Samuel Pepys makes the first mention of a Punch and Judy show in Britain in his diary of May 1662. Street culture thrives alongside the formal and traditional, with the Royal Opera House nestled in one corner of the square; and more virtual diversions are on offer within the clean white walls of the Apple Store.
And my, my! How could students resist a trip to the West End to see the classic jukebox musical based on ABBA’s hit songs — mamma mia, it’s Mamma Mia! Students laughed and sang along, and we had some dancing queens of our own as we left the theatre, and even as we boarded the coach home to Yarnton Manor. They were quite the super troupers [sic] in the traffic jams on the journey back, too.