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Friday 10th June

All the final day fun will be captured here...

7.10am Good morning all from the Sandown sofa for the final time this year. Apologies for the slightly delayed posting today - this is due to a technological malfunction overnight...namely the premature demise of my phone battery which has put me 45 minutes behind schedule today. I suppose I only have myself to blame as I took it out of my pocket to check the time whilst in amongst the carnage of Room 10 during the tidying up last night. Clearly some foreign bodies penetrated the mechanics...happily it is back on charge and re-powering :-)

Ok, I'm jsu heading off into the twilight zones to wake up the boys...that should be an interesting task this morning...there is literally nothing moving or stirring yet today.

7.50am -STOP PRESS...Official geographical update: Mt Olympus does exist on the IOW - it has been spotted in Room giant mound of 'stuff'...Conor was right all along, I just couldn't see it due to the rest of the carnage in there.

Breakfast is 5 minutes away. We are almost packed and the rooms are looking almost inhabitable. We have re-united Alex with at least two pairs of Next shorts that he has been denying any knowledge of for the last 12 hours...even though he was wearing one pair of them at the disco last has been a very amusing episode late in the week :-) Everyone is well, if a little tired. We are gearing up for our trip to Monkey Haven after breakfast. Mrs Holt is carrying out her pre-departure motivational hairbrushing talk. "It feels like we only arrived yesterday" Lottie has just said. "Yes, it's a bit like being in the twilight zone" Mrs Holt has just added. Tell me about it...I've been squeezed between 8 & 10 all week. Actually, at this point I am going to praise the boys to the heavens - they have been very good company all week; we have enjoyed terrific banter down on the ground floor and they have stuck together and looked after each other since we set off. It has been pleasure to stand alongside them and risk life and limb with them since Monday. They have done an amazing job in getting their things pocked this morning...what a bunch of superstars!

Right, breakfast is served for the last time this year. I will be back later when I will be typing into Word on the laptop so I can paste everything to the website later today. See you all very soon!

8.50am STOP PRESS: Breaking News...the hotel staff have awarded prizes for the tidiest/most helpful table in the dining room and the tidiest bedroom competition. You won't be surprised to hear that the ground floor did not win the room comp! Amy (the waitress) judged Table 4 as the winners - congratulations to Isabella, Imogen, Adam, Federica, Jake and Sam on an excellent result. Up on the mountain side in the Alpine meadows it must have been a very tough decision for Lou to judge but she eventually chose Room 3 as the champions. Congratulations to Isabella (double winner), Libby, Inuki, April and Lottie...Room 3 must have been amazing to outpoint the bandana crew in Room 4 with their special shelf and hairbrush drawer. In all fairness to the boys, as soon as the tidiest room competition was announced, many heads fell into many hands accompanied by many groans. Conor summed it up when he said "We've got no chance of winning couldn't even see our floor all week." For someone who didn't realise they had a bin in there, this is impressive progress. Josh said afterwards "I'm quite devastated as I thought we must have been very close to winning" and Adam added "I thought we had that in the bag." Therein lies the problem in Room 10...nothing was actually in the bag all was all over the floor or draped from the bunks :-)

Tidiest room winner Inuki commented "I'm proud of myself". Clearly Inuki's superb bed making skills this week caught the eye of judge Lou...maybe she did bounce a 10p off the sheets as Mrs Holt suggested earlier in the week?

We're almost ready to leave; the children are all sitting here in the lounge with me chatting away happily and sharing their memories of the week. They have really bonded superbly and I can hardly recall a single cross word between them at any time. They have thoroughly enjoyed their are a couple of sample comments:

"It was the best time ever" "An amazing experience to remember" "THhe tiredness is well worth it" (nice one Eloise) "I've never been on such a great school trip before" (Inuki),"I'be become so much closer to my friends by spending this week together" (Jaimie) and one that's really made me chuckle "It was actually worth doing SAT's to come here! (April)...I wonder if that sentiment extends to maths?

It's 9am and we are almost set for the off...


As we were leaving the hotel, Mrs Holt spotted Daniel and Conor playing with a little bat & attached ball toy they’d bought on the shopping spree yesterday. “Look at that, who needs an X-Box 4 when you’ve got one of those” she said with considerable delight.

“Err, there’s no such thing Mrs Holt…it’s a PS4 or an X-Box 360” Brendan interjected.

But our super-talented Year 6 teacher is made of stern stuff and remains as sharp-witted as ever, even though it was the final morning of a long week.

“Well Brendan, I guess that just shows how cool I am. I have an X-Box 4 before they’ve even been invented” she replied with a flourish. Classy stuff.

We boarded the coach and waved goodbye to Gary, Lou and Bertram Lodge, our home away from home in Sandown. It’s a perfect place for a Year 6 group to stay and the hosts are the perfect people to help make their week truly memorable. The orang utan led the waving and we set sail for Monkey Haven.

When we got off the coach, Mrs Holt tickled the orang utan under the chin and said “Bertie look, you’ve come home.” He was clearly very excited…as was Mrs Holt. First activity was a quiz…although just before that, the children discovered a little play area for very little people where Federica got stuck in a miniature see-saw thing. After spending a whole week with her, I’m now beginning to understand where Freya was coming from with her ‘mad’ question at Osborne House on Tuesday. Federica is officially as mad as a hatter in the most lovely way – she brightens the room and approaches everything she does in such a happy and positive manner. I feel she will undoubtedly be a success in life as happiness and positivity take you a very long way. We headed in to the little conservatory to start the animals quiz. Children split into teams and chose a name with April coming up with an absolute cracker…HFS Victory – very smart! Not far behind in the names stake was ‘JEFF the Monkey’ created, not surprisingly, by Jaimie, Eloise, Freya and Federica.

Questions (and responses) included:

“Why do monkeys groom themselves?” ….to try out new hairstyles.

“What is the main function of a monkeys tail?” …to protect themselves against predators. Imagine that – a lion approaches a monkey who says “Get back lion or I will attack you with my tail.”

What accessories do meerkats have built into their fur?” … sandals!!!

“Name the 4 great apes of the world” …Chimpanzees, Orang utans, Gorillas and Humans (or Homer Sapians as JEFF the Monkey said). I wonder if Homer Sapians are direct descendants of Homer Simpson?

“How do you tell an owl that hunts in the day from an owl that hunts at night?” …one of them is wearing pyjamas.

At the end of these sharp-witted exchanges, the winners were JEFF the Monkey with a grand score of 8 out of 10. Well done to our 4 resident Homer Sapians.

After the quiz we got the opportunity to get up close and personal with a beautiful 6 year old tawny owl named Bo who apparently enjoys watching TV, helping with the hoovering and playing with dogs. Mrs Capindale held a respectful distance and politely but firmly rejected the offer to stroke him. We then had a tour of the various enclosures and listened to an interesting and knowledgeable young lady explaining about the different monkeys and apes. Gazing into one large cage, Harry Yule said “Mr Tindall, have you seen that movie Planet of the Apes? It’s a bit like that.”

“How long do you reckon it will be before they start talking to us?” I replied without taking my eyes of the monkeys. Harry did a double take before moving swiftly onwards. We then stopped outside the black and white colobus monkeys who only have 4 fingers and no thumb…which is presumably why you never see one hitching a lift up the M6. The gibbon enclosure was a zone of total madness and chaos; there was lots of chattering, charging around, swinging from the fence and jostling over a single football…now where have I seen that before? The final enclosure we visited was occupied by the rhesus macaques. They appeared to spend the whole time rolling around on the floor in a bundle, following each other around whilst screeching and grabbing hold of each other in places both appropriate and slightly inappropriate…now that did bear a striking resemblance to an average break time observing the boys in Year 3.

We finished the trip with one final shopping session…during which the children bought some lovely souvenirs and gifts. It appears they have progressed in their retail skills over the week. We then hopped back on the coach and made the short journey to Fishbourne to catch the ferry.

The coach journey home from Portsmouth turned into a live concert of ‘music through the decades…and beyond’ as the children launched into a very wide repertoire of classic hits from ‘Staying Alive’, ‘We Will Rock You’ and ‘The Macarena’ right through to a passionate rendition of ‘Gloria in Excelsis Deo!’ I’m not sure who was controlling the juke box back there but they’ve certainly got a wide collection of hits in their collection.

It is traditional in my blogs to conclude by rolling the film credits for each room based on key events and moments of the week. This year I think it is simply a case of splitting the hotel horizontally into two:

 On ground zero we have the classic movie blockbuster ‘Apocalypse Now’ starring…

Room 8 (Harry Y, Jake, Daniel, Max, Sam, Jack, Vincent and a lost gruffalo)

Room 10 (Josh, Adam, Conor, Harry O, Alex, Toby, Brendan, Oliver, a singing bear, several festering mounds and a small family of wolves)

Room 9 (Mr Tindall as Edward Munch’s Scream)

Up the Alpine hillside, only a short cable car ride away, we have The Sound of Music starring:

Room 2: (Imogen, Eleonora, Freya, Siobhan, Leila & Elsie)

Room 3 (Isabella, April, Libby, Inuki and Lottie)

Room 4 (Jaimie, Eloise, Gracie and Federica)

Room  1 (Mrs Holt as Julie Andrews)

Room 5 (Mrs Capindale as Casey Jones the Engine Driver)

Room 6 (Mrs O’Connor as the Hovering Glow Stick Dancing Queen of Sandown Beach)

Well folks, that’s just about it for the 2016 blog. I really hope it has given you all a small flavour of the experiences, laughter, friendship and learning that has taken place in the blazing sun on the Isle of Wight this week. It has been both a pleasure and a privilege to be involved and play a small part. Your children have been wonderful company and I can honestly say we have not had to get cross or upset with any of them at any time. Gary and Lou in their goodbye speech said “Holy Family are always a pleasure to have in our home. We never have to explain the rules to you because you are so good.” This is high praise and should make everyone proud.

Mrs Holt has led the trip as superbly, tirelessly and inspirationally as ever. Mrs Capindale and Mrs O’Connor are both highly talented, reliable and trusted lieutenants and, alongside Mrs Holt, help to make up an IOW dream team trio. We have laughed a lot, shared a lot and worked together which is how life should be lived, particularly when you are caring for 30 children 24 hours a day. Mrs O’Connor has taken 3,100 photos this week so spare a minute or two to think of her as she begins to trawl through them and edit them all. If any of those 3,100 are photos of me, editing will take a good while.

No animals, staff or children were harmed in the making of this epic adventure. All characters are totally real and should bear a striking resemblance to people you may know well…with perhaps a tiny sprinkle of artistic license thrown in here and there.

My final thanks of this week go to you, the parents. Thank you so much for supporting us in all we do and for providing the financial backing to ensure this trip goes ahead. You have given your children an amazing opportunity and I hope they find a minute (amongst the yawning, resting and sleeping) this weekend to thank you from the bottom of their heart. The fabulous partnership between home and school makes Holy Family very special. If you’ve been following the blog all week and reading all my posts, you are probably entitled to a glass or two of wine tonight…and maybe an endurance medal.

Until 2017…when Conor’s mum will have to go through my inane ramblings all over again…

For the final time, it’s over and out from The Blog Bloke…on the front seat of the coach somewhere on the A3.