Our final day of the trip, guaranteed to be packed full of action!
6.55am - Morning everyone for the final time in 2019 from Bertram Lodge. Unfortunately I can report that outside it is as grisly as a grizzled grizzly bear....with a headache. We seem to have regressed to the depths of winter...there will certainly be no need for the sun cream police today and I am now consulting Google for the contact details for Noah; I think we may need an ark to get off the island. I will be advising the children to get into pairs when we wake them up this morning. Oh well, at least Chungus and Fungus are already paired up in their little millipede cell.
It's been a fabulous trip full of fun and laughter so it's a real shame that a stormy Friday will probably see us huddling under shelter for much of the morning. I'm not sure how many of the monkeys will fancy showcasing their talents in the rain but you never know.
The usual format for the Friday blog is that I type everything into Word on the coach as we travel home then post it all here when we get back to school. It's important we end the story in style so please check back this evening for all the soaking wet action of the day. I'm off upstairs now to see how many of the boys can actually be woken up...
Oh dear, it's like a sloths' convention up there in Rooms 2, 3 & 4. There's more life in Theresa May's Brexit deal than upstairs and she officially resigns today. Mrs Holt has started the wake up route down here. She's employing her jolliest teacher voice but, as with the boys, I think she will need to work quite hard to get any response.
Speaking of the rooms, here is the all star film cast you have been watching from across the water this week:
Room 1: Alfred Hitchcock's 'The Birds' starring Mrs Capindale, Mrs O'Connor, a collection of cameras and Spike the Eurasian Eagle Owl.
Room 2: 'Jurassic World' starring Hugh, Gilberto, Adam, Brandon, Finn and an empty wardrobe. DVD available at a special rate in B&Q, Portsmouth
Room 3: 'Return of the Daleks' starring Harry C, Luke, Isaac, Joseph, Conor and Ollie. Film rights, merchandising and sequel deal already signed and organised by Mr Prepared.
Room 4: 'Jurassic Park' the Soccer AM edition starring Harry J, Alfie, Thomas, Eddie, George, Patrick, a green bucket, scores of odd socks and a small family of T-Rex.
Room 5: 'Animal Psychiatry for beginners' starring Mrs Rawlinson
Room 6: 'Full Metal Jacket' the uncut edition starring Mr Tindall and an array of items of protective clothing
Room 7: 'The Magnificent Eight' special comedy edition starring Fern, Amoya, Lexi, Ellen, Emma, Aoife, Abigail, Hannah, Spiderman and an ambulance siren.
Room 8: 'Friends' the mega caring edition starring Ella, Rosa, Harriet, Keira, XiXi & Bella.
Room 9: 'The Green Millipede Mile' starring Mrs Holt, her big red folder and a jail cell housing Chungus and Fungus
The tidiest room competition is judged by Lou the owner of the hotel. There is a scandalous tabloid rumour circulating that this years winner may be from the very left wing of the leftest field in Left Land. I will confirm later but if it's true I will need to be resusitated first.
Good news, some of the zombies from upstairs have begun to shuffle into the room. Thomas, Luke, George and Alfie are sitting on the bench staring into space like the England coaching team last night. That was such a shame for the boys...they were singing 'Football's Coming Home' at the top of their voices at half time...then it all went typically England. Football is still not coming home. Eddie has arrived and he's smiling...although I think I need to tell him that he has one sock on and is carrying the other in his left hand...clearly the messages from his brain are moving at a slighter slower speed this morning. Right, 5 minutes until breakfast. We have 8 boys present and a grand total of zero girls...the face care routines must be taking longer this morning. Despite their exhaustion, the boys remain motivated by the lure of food which is heart-warming stuff. Over and out for now...
8.55am - our final breakfast together is now over and Mrs Holt is running through the pre-departure instructions. Gary & Lou have announced their winners for the week. In the dining room there is absolutely no arguement with their choice of Table 2 as the champions. I think the pain au chocolat song may be tipped the scales in their favour but they were also excellent all week. Congratulations to Abigail, Adam, Ollie, Keira, Isaac, Harriet, Harry J & Bella.
The tidiest room competition is a totally different matter altogether. Room 3 now know how it feels to play for Ajax; they are sitting there in shock, shaking their heads and muttering "How did we not win that?" The tabloid rumours were accurate, Room 4 were awarded the prize as winners. There was a moment of stunned silence as everyone tried to process the news, Thomas did a picture perfect version of Edward Munch' Scream painting and Alfie said "How have we managed to win that?" I agree with his sentiments entirely and am currently on the phone to FIFA to ask for a consulation through VAR. They will be talking about it in the IOW for years to come in the same breath as the Russian linesman from 1966. Congratulations to Harry J, George, Patrick, Eddie, Thomas & Alfie. On that stunning bombshell, I'm off to finish packing my case.
5pm - We are home and I am uploading the rest of the days action as it happened. Enjoy...
After the excitement of the awards we started to load up the coach…and the heavy rain stopped being vertical and changed to a diagonal attack. As the boys staggered along the landing towards the stairs with their cases, Finn strolled out of Room 2 casually waving a £5 in the air. “Finn, where is your suitcase and backpack?” Mrs Capindale asked him. Clearly he wasn’t planning on bringing these home but I’m sure Mr & Mrs Judge will be consoled by the fact that he was probably planning on spending the £5 as bail money to secure the release of Chungus…who by now had received a favourable court hearing from Mrs Holt and had been granted his freedom. We loaded all the cases on board in double-quick time, said our fond farewells to Gary and Lou then pulled away from Bertram Lodge for the final time in 2019.
On the coach journey to Monkey Haven, having just finished breakfast, Mrs Rawlinson and Mrs Capindale were talking about their favourite breakfast cereals whilst I sat there looking out of the window wondering why we didn’t book the IOW trip in June this year. It was shocking out there and it started to dawn on me that perhaps Gilberto is right…perhaps there is a need for B&Q stores in the attraction section of tourist brochures after all. As we pulled up at Monkey Haven, Bertie and Bertram began to get very excited; it was their first trip home in a year to visit their family. We were greeted by Lizzie and Lily, two of the keepers and went straight into the reptile lodge out of the rain. We started with a quiz.
Question 1 asked them to name 4 great apes of the world. An easy start I thought…Chimpanzee, Gorilla, Orang Utan and an ape that hasn’t properly evolved yet…better known as Boris Johnson. They then moved on to the multi-choice questions. ‘What accessory do Meerkats have built into their fur?’ Ellen & Harriet felt the answer was sun hat whereas Emma went for sandals. Lizzie revealed the correct answer as sunglasses then added, by way of an explanation “You never see a meerkat in a flat cap or shoes do you?”…which is not strictly correct as some of them do the Coronation Street ads and flat caps are a major fashion item in the Republik of Mancunia.
Following the quiz, Lily brought Bo the Tawny Owl in to meet the children. Owls have 14 vertebrae in their neck and can turn their heads 270 degrees which makes them second only to teachers on a Year 6 residential for the ability to look everywhere at once. They can also hear a mouse’s heartbeat from 3 metres away which probably explains why Spike the Eurasian Eagle Owl launched his only flight on Wednesday straight at Mrs Capindale’s face…he surely thought there were many mice hiding behind her.
After Bo had left us, Lizzie introduced us all to Shadow the South American corn snake and everyone was allowed to hold her. First in the queue was Ella followed by Isaac who made some strange mini squeaky dalek noises whilst holding her. I think he may need a quick spray with WD 40 later on today. Lexi said “Mrs Holt, are you having a go?”
“I’ve held snakes loads of times” Mrs Holt replied confidently…which is not surprising…snakes are ten a penny in Oldham town centre on a Friday and Saturday afternoon…they take them out walking on leads and everything. The last two to hold the snake were Xixi and Aoife before the teachers had a go…well, apart from Mrs Rawlinson who had disappeared amidst a trail of dust, scattered chairs and upturned tables. It was like a scene from an Escape Room on I’m a Celebrity Get me out of here.
By this time the weather had cheered up and we headed outside to look at the charming apes and monkeys. We visited the cute little Capuchins who were playing cheekily together then over to the Lar Gibbons, mainly due to the fact that they were howling at the top of their voices for some attention. They caused great hilarity with their range of noises, swinging from branches, bars, running along ropes and eating at the same time, and licking the fence. It was strangely reminiscent of the KS1 playground on a good day.
Over at the enclosure of the red-tailed guenons, we learned that they are excellent communicators which explains why you have never seen one as a politician then we saw the Colobus Monkeys. These guys unfortunately have no thumbs which is the reason you have never seen one hitching a lift up the M6. A quick lunch in the lodge then a final piece of retail therapy in the shop finished our visit to Monkey Haven. We then hopped on the coach and made our way to Yarmouth for the 2pm ferry.
I caught up with a few of the children to ask them to design their dream day in the IOW. It’s a frantic and tiring schedule they’ve come up with but here it is:
7.45am – Breakfast
9 – 11am Tree climbing in Ryde
11am – 2.30pm – 4D motion cinema, Colossus pirate ship and slides at Robin Hill Park
2.30 – 3.00pm – Swiss Cottage museum of curiosities (Thomas and Finn insisted this was included)
3 – 5pm Sea sports on Sandown Beach
6pm Ten-pin bowling in Ryde
8.30pm Theatre performance at Shanklin Theatre
10.30pm Disco at the hotel
12 midnight – Bed!
As you can see, it is mega busy and they haven’t factored in lunch, dinner, travelling time or eating sticks of rock but after all, I did ask them to design a dream day. It’s clear what they love to do most on this fantastic trip.
For the record, Mrs Holt is now announcing the total mileage we have covered this week via her fit bit. Apparently this is 73, 134 Mrs Holt steps so we asked for the numbers in kilometres. This was 45.98 Km or 29.47 miles. This trip has officially been a marathon and a bit.
5.05pm - Wow, what a trip. It's just Mrs Holt and I left in the school office now and we've both just had a massive exhalation of breath. As always, Mrs Holt has led this trip with precision timing, superb organisation, fabulous humour and abundant energy. The staff team of Mrs Capindale, Mrs O'Connor and Mrs Rawlinson have done what Holy Family staff do every day - care for the children in the most wonderful way. We are privileged to have them in our team.
Back at school, Mrs O'Neil and the rest of our amazing team have manned the fort superbly. A Year 6 residential involves everyone as there are so many duties and responsibilities to be covered while we are away. My thanks go to them for being so reliable as always.
So, that brings down the curtain on another successful Year 6 trip to the Isle of Wight. I am not exaggerating when I say this group got along in a sensational manner. They were wonderful company for each other and for us as members of staff. They have done each and every one of you proud. Thank you to all parents for your support and backing in helping this trip to happen and to be so successful - without you this amazing experience for the children would not be possible. Be careful when opening the suitcases as I cannot be liable for what may be lurking or festering within. If you've made it this far trawling through my inane ramblings, I salute you. I expect it has been like wading through treacle in a metal diving suit.
Until 2020 when we return and Mr & Mrs Stanley are subjected to my bizarre story lines again, it's over and out for the final time from me, sat at Mrs Skinner's desk in the school office.
The Ben Hur of blogs is now complete!
The Blog Bloke 2019