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FRIDAY BLOG

Our final day of the trip, guaranteed to be packed full of action!

6.45am Good morning from the leather sofa in Sandown for the final time in 2017. So, there it is, the nation is waking up to the sensational news of proceedings over night. Sky News are running constant coverage and there are reporters all over the country to capture the reaction of the British public. There must be at least 100 journalists outside the lounge window waving at me with placards that simply say 'Room 2 the tidiest!' Never mind the hung parilament and hard bolied Brexit suddenly becoming soft boiled Brexit, there's not enough brain space in my head to take in the bizarre news from the eye of the storm...I can't wait to see their reaction this morning. Speaking of room 2, I'm now qualified to apply for a job as an alligator wrestler after assisting Gabriel to pack his case last night. What a fight that was. Gabriel assures me that everything we got in the bag actually belongs to him so hopefully that is the case when mum unpacks it all tonight. For all I know, there could be some of Michael's gold bullion in there as well. Speaking of Michael, he has not yet reclaimed his mini pane of glass for the repair job at home. I will make sure I chat to him about this as would not like to think of his mum and dad having to call out a glazier this weekend :-) It's very peaceful inside the hotel this morning; I expect the wake up route may be very interesting when we head off in the next 30 minutes or so. Breakfast today is at 8.15am and then we'll be loading up the coach and making our way to Monkey Haven where the orang utan can say hello to all his mates. I heard Mrs Holt telling the children last night that he's not sure how he feels about going to Monkey Haven as all his friends are in cages. I expect it's a difficult choice for him after spending the last 12 months in the twilight zone with Shergar and Lord Lucan. At least he gets a great holiday every June :-)

So, time to roll the movie credits for 2017. Thank you for watching and being part of our adventure. No staff, children, animals (farmyard or otherwise) or gold bars were harmed during the making of this epic tale. All events and characters are real with a little spice of creative licence sprinkled here and there.  Based on events within the blog this week, the best I can manage is shown below. You have been watching:

Room 1 - 'Animal Farm' starring Mrs Capindale, Mrs O'Connor and over 3,000 photographs

Room 2 - "The Day after Tomorrow' starring Samuel, Gabriel, Charlie, Joseph, Thomas and Michael with frequent guest appearances by Henry the Hurricane. Soundtrack to the movie is 12 Gold Bars by Status Quo

Room 3 - 'The Lion, The Witch & The Bag in the Wardrobe' (a Dr Who Dalek adventure) starring Niall, Salvatore, Caleb, Mateo, Josh & Amir with guest appearances by Greg the magnetic monkey

Room 4 - 'The Karate Kid' (Inspector Poirot comedy adventure) starring Aidan, Ewan, Rowan, Santi, Luca & Callum

Room 5 - 

Room 6 - 'The Wizard of Oz' starring Mr Tindall, his red notebook and red laptop 

Room 8 - 'Titanic' starring Alice, Aoife, Josie, Izzabella, Eloise, Suzanne, Shae, Isabel and Alice's dad's on loan camera

Room 9 - ''Marley and Me' (a don't all dogs look like their owners adventure) starring Mrs Holt, her amazing organisational skills and large red file

Room 10 - 'On a slide alone' (a heartwarming tale of a daring rescue on a perilous slope) starring Mia, Ella, Francesca, Megan, Meghan, Rachel, Hollie & Carraghan

Ok everyone, it's 7.30am and I'm off the wake up the boys. First stop will be room 3 to see if there has been any need this morning for the intervention of the holy spirit. Back soon...

7.40am All the boys are awake on the upper floor although there are some groggy bodies this morning. In room 4 the Karate Kid clearly doesn't do Friday displays as he's lying flat out doing a pretty remarkable impression of Tutankhamun. In room 2 the Batman after shave has taken a pounding this week, or probably more accurately last night, as the boys transformed themselves into disco superheroes and in room 3 there was just a lot of bleary-eyed groaning going on. Mrs Holt is currently nudging the girls along in the ground floor rooms...although it still seems to be remarkably quiet to me. I'm heading back upstairs now to start the final leg of the packing marathon and hoping to avoid another alligator wrestle with Gabriel's bag.

8am - Breakfast is fast approaching and there's no sign of any packed cases yet. We're getting there but efforts are being slightly hampered by missing hair gel, lost pants and debates about whether a wash is required if I had one yesterday...such is life within the eye of the hurricane.The girls are still conspicuous by their absence. This is likely to be my final post before I switch to the red book and Microsoft Word for the rest of the day. I will transfer everything to the blog page when we get back to school later - don't miss the final instalment as Monkey Haven normally throws up a classic line or two. Enjoy your day and we will see you all very soon.

Welcome back everyone...literally as we have now arrived back at school. Please carry on reading below for the tales of our day...

9.25am – We left Bertram Lodge on time with Gary, Lou & Donna waving us off and made the short drive to Monkey Haven. The sun had come out and was peeping through the clouds to add a little bit of summer to our last visit of the 2017 Year 6 trip We hopped off the coach and went straight in where the ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ quickly commenced. “I want a monkey” Meghan said…or at least I’m fairly certain it’s what she said as the gibbons had spotted us and were making a howling racket. They were leaping and swinging from the bars, rattling the fence of the cage and shouting at the top of their lung power; all very strangely similar to an average playtime in KS1. “They’re trying to communicate us” Aidan explained. “Indeed, they’ve obviously heard about our peacock contacting abilities at Robin Hill” I replied.

Michael then suddenly transformed into Charles Darwin and became all philosophical. “It’s hard to think that we were one of them many centuries ago” he pondered. I considered this statement…in many cases it’s not that hard to imagine it…try watching Prime Minister’s questions for a start…the evolution is still taking place in there. Lizzie the keeper then arrived to give the children a guided tour. Lizzie is both very knowledgeable and very enthusiastic about all the creatures in her care so I knew this would be very educational. She warned the children to stay behind the barriers near the cages for safety reasons…the animal’s safety. She’s obviously been reading the blog this week and knows all about us. First stop on the tour was the meerkat enclosure. They were all in attendance looking as busy as ever; obviously this means they were having the day off work filming the intro ads for Coronation Street. Lizzie then explained how digging is an integral part of a meerkat’s life. Mrs O’Neil will be able to empathise easily with that…Year 4 are always out in the Millennium Garden digging away at break times. Lizzie was firing questions at the children. “What jobs or roles do you think meerkats do in their family community?”

“Caretaker” one of the boys shouted out. Interesting answer and one I assumed they had gleaned from looking inside the enclosure, So, I looked more carefully in there for a grey haired meerkat carrying a black bag, power drill and large slice of cake whilst magically pulling coins out of children’s hoods. The gibbons were clearly desperate to get some attention so we headed over there. By this time they were going crazy. Once again, with perfect comic timing, Santi said “That sounds just like me and Mateo when we’ve just had a sugar rush.” We then moved on to see the lemurs from Madagascar. These are now a critically endangered species as 90% of their natural habitat has been destroyed by man. Lemurs came before monkeys in pre-evolution terms…which puts them just after politicians in the evolutionary scale. Final cage with Lizzie was the colobus monkeys. These are interesting little chaps who have large black capes which they can use to parachute between tress however they have no thumbs. These facts help us understand why you will never see a colobus monkey hitching a ride up the M6. Behind me, Aidan said “I don’t like the noisy monkeys.” “Now you know how it feels to be a teacher” I replied with a grin. I’m particularly delighted with myself over that sharp reply as Santi found it very funny. Getting a seal of approval from the next great comedy talent is a major tick in the box…I might yet elbow Mrs O’Connor aside for that guest slot on the first show in the debut series.

Lizzie then disappeared and returned 2 minutes later with the legend known as Scrumply the Mancunian snake. His real name is Gustavo but was christened Scrumply by the Manc Mafia on the 2015 trip. Scrumply is a boa constrictor and a very friendly chap…typical Mancunian really. Every child stroked Scrumply...no fears for our intrepid explorers at the end of our week away. Salvatore’s eyes lit up; I could see what he was thinking…’tortoise, miniature dog…snake next!” Mrs Federico can order a tank on the internet…or pop down the road to the pet shop and pick one up; might as well continue the menagerie now. Caleb then asked “Can I touch his tongue?”

“Would you like someone to walk up to you and touch your tongue without an invite?” Lizzie replied. Caleb got the point. At the end of the line, Lizzie handed Scrumply to myself and Mrs Holt for the great Mancunian reunion. Scrumply paid his very own special tribute by curling into a heart shape as I held him. I love MCR.

Editor’s note: Scrumply is a magnificent northern term which means dishevelled and creased. Parent who wish for visible evidence, please just look at the clothes as you take them out of the bags tonight.

Following the snake charming with the charming snake, the children were given booklets to complete around Monkey Haven. The final question in the booklet asked them to find a homosapien in the gift shop to receive the final stamp in the booklet.  Michael said to Mrs Holt “What’s a homosapien…is it an ape that hasn’t fully evolved?” In many cases, he’s bang on the mark there. After lunch and a good final shopping spree, we spent 15 minutes in the adventure playground then just as we were leaving we bumped into Sandie, the very funny lady from the TV show Gogglebox. She’s just as loud and as funny in real life and was very excited to meet the children. Mrs O’Connor snapped a few photos for the trip album then we headed for the coach and the drive back to Yarmouth for the ferry to Lymington. On the coach there was a short drama as there was a ‘giant bee’ buzzing around. Mrs Holt was quickly on the scene to employ her bee catching skills, last seen on the 2015 trip. The tools of the trade are an empty drinks carton and a sheet of paper. Job done…that Countryfile presenter role is almost in the bag.

Live update: It’s 1.40pm and we’re sitting at the ferry port. The ferry is on time and the sun is shining. We may have arrived on the island under grey, gloomy skies and horizontal rain but the children of Holy Family have sprinkled their sunny smiles and brightened the whole place. They’ve been fantastic company all week and we’re all exceptionally proud of them. We got to the magic 10 compliments from the general public yesterday and this morning Gary & Lou said they love our school and we are welcome back at any time. This is fabulous news for our current Year 5; Bertram Lodge really is a home from home run by a family who truly care about the school groups they host. Oh, I almost forgot – the announcement of the tidiest room competition this morning was top class. Moments before Donna announced the winners, Samuel said to me “We’ve got absolutely no chance at all”. When room 2 was announced there was an incredible eerie silence, the tumbleweed blew across the room and everything went into slow motion. I could see the boys from room 2 all thinking the same thing…”That’s us but there’s no way it can be us”. The silence was eventually broken by Michael who asked “Did you just pull us out of a hat?” It was all very funny and a great way to end our time at Bertram Lodge…but there is still no-one (other than Donna and her team) who can actually work out how they won. I guess it’s evidence that sometimes, just sometimes, miracles do happen. Ok, we’re about to board the ferry now so I will switch back to red book mode. I will be back later…

2.40pm – The ferry is just docking in Lymington after a very pleasant crossing. As the sun was out we sat on the top deck to enjoy the feel of the breeze; I guess Mrs Holt feels we haven’t had enough wind this week. The children were in very chilled mode; this trip has really done them the world of good. They’ve been incredibly understanding, tolerant and supportive of each other and we haven’t had a single cross word between any of them. The whole trip has been one of fun, smiles and laughter which is just how a Year 6 residential trip should be. If Carlsberg made school trips…

So, how do we ever begin to try and beat this in 2018? Well, apparently, at breakfast this morning, Table 3 (Izzabella, Callum, Rowan, Eloise, Salvatore & Samuel) were celebrating their best table award by planning the itinerary for the perfect day in the Isle of Wight…which looks something like this:

8.00am Breakfast

9.30am – 12.30pm Tree climbing in Ryde followed by a picnic in the park

2 – 4pm  Wight Water sea sports on Sandown Beach

5pm Dinner

6.30 – 8pm Theatre show at Shanklin Theatre

9pm Ten pin bowling at Super Bowl in Ryde

11pm Big lights out

Thank you to Izzabella for working on the timings with me. Well, it’s action packed and sounds brilliant to me. Very busy…but brilliant nevertheless. We’d also need the co-operation of the good Lord to provide us with a bright sunny day and there’s a real danger of ‘how do you follow that the following day’ but the tidy table champs have spoken.

 Over to you for 2018 Mrs Holt...

My final feelings now that we are safely home are ones of privilege, gratitude and thanks. It is a privilege to lead our staff team and to have the opportunity to spend the week with such wonderful young people, hopefully aiding a tiny bit in their education and development. I would also like to say a huge thank you to all parents for your unwavering support and commitment throughout the year, but particularly in providing the funds to ensure this trip took place. You have given your children an experience they will never forget and they did you proud. They have grown up over the week and these learning experiences should stand them in good stead as they move on to secondary school. I just hope my inane ramblings allowed you to sort of experience the trip with them from afar. If I managed to do that just a little bit, it has been well worth all the typos and the bleary eyes :-) If you have managed to read this waffling story from start to finish, you now officially deserve a very large medal. At least you won't have to go through it all again next year...unless of course you are Mr & Mrs Clark :-)

Before I go I would also like to say a MASSIVE thank you to Mrs O'Neil for steering the ship so expertly in my absence and to the rest of our wonderful staff team back at school who all have to chip in with extra duties whilst we are away. It is truly appreciated and underlines that Holy Family is all about family. Thank you everyone!

My final thanks go to our blessed Lord in heaven for keeping us all safe this week and providing us with such blessings. It's time for me to go now...I need to check out room 2...Doh, that's gone for another 12 months.

With much love, 

The Blog Bloke 2017