Only the English can do a school like this. I visit Wellington College.
I’ve left Cyprus now and am happily ensconced in a little village called Crowthorne about an hour South-West of London. Actually I’m staying in a student dorm. When my boss was talking to me about the training in London he asked if I would stay in the student accommodation. I thought about it knowing that, if I refused, he would be ok with it and would put me up in a nearby hotel but I had two reasons for staying in a dorm. The first that the school was already spending quite some money to send me here and it would be churlish of me not to reciprocate and save the school some money. The second reason was that I’ve done hotels to death. My first career being hotel management I’ve stayed in hundreds of hotels – they hold no attraction for me and often I still feel like I’m on a busman’s holiday when I’m staying in a hotel. I haven’t however stayed in student accommodation since my Uni years and here was my opportunity to stay in school accommodation in an old British establishment school dating back to the 1800’s – I figured only an idiot would choose to stay at a nearby hotel.
So here I am in student accommodation. They’ve put me in a new building and I’m in a prefect’s room so while I have no TV I do have an ensuite. This room suits me fine and is far better than many places I’ve stayed at over the years. The school I’m at, Wellington College, is however something different. It is a fantastic old establishment, a school like only the English can do schools. Old buildings, dining halls, Chapels – a rugby field, a shooting range and buildings oozing history. Think Harry Potter type school. I wander around the grounds for a few hours. The place is quiet as students are away for holidays so while I’m not quite alone it is peaceful. I wander about hallways filled with busts of Lords and Generals who fought in Waterloo and the Crimea. The origins of the school are military and you can still see the military tradition hold strong but this is not a military school. For awhile I try to find evidence of the lives of young people because everything seems so historical. Find it I do however as posterboards under busts of long forgotten campaigners of the Frontiers and the Boer war display student work and notices. I read one notice and smile as I see some concern that the girls at school are wearing too much “bling” and are not being called up on it. This school may ooze wealth and history from it’s pores but it is still clearly just a school.