Pupils from Thorncliffe School travelled to Moscow in 1994 to visit their friends from School 368 and to stay in their homes.

For some it was their first eye-opening trip to Russia and for others it was their second opportunity to catch up on events in the new Russia.

Two years previously on a visit organised by official Russian travel agency Intourist, Thorncliffe first set up the contacts with the children of School 368.

And in 1993 Thorncliffe paid for a group of their new Russian friends to visit them in Barrow.

Originally the Thorncliffe contingent in 1994 had planned to stay in hotels but because of the rate of inflation they ended up staying in the homes of their friends. It gave them an insight into the Russian way of life they could never have achieved as tourists.

In the two years since their last visit, they noticed some changes. Teacher Hazel Edwards said: "Last time we were there you could not get any fresh fruit. So this time I carried a bunch of bananas all the way from Barrow only to find the city full of bananas."

Sixteen-year-old Sarah Harney had left Thorncliffe but still went on the trip. The major changes she noticed were in technology. The Barrow group had taken a video playback machine because the first time they visited the school they found it bare of new technology.

But this time they found there had been an explosion in the amount of technology available to ordinary people.

Sarah said she saw expensive hi-fis and computers in most homes they visited.

She said in the evenings the Russian youngsters stayed at home, talking to friends on the telephone.

Computer games were also popular with an amusement hall packed with Tetris game machines on almost every street corner.

Chris Hodson, 15, said school life in Russia was more formal than in England and Russian pupils had more subjects to learn.

The pupils visited McDonald's in Moscow. Was it any different? "No" they all agreed. "It was just like being in Dalton Road."