6.45am Good morning all from the Isle of Wight for the final time this year. The week has flown by,,,we must have been enjoying ourselves :-) I think we must have some very tired bodies in the hotel this morning as there is complete silence and I have only a couple of little twittering birds outside the window for company; even Orang utan is sparked out on the leather sofa alongside me. He's completely gone...there are long limbs draped all over the place - it must have been all that dancing at the disco last night although I best check his sides to make sure they haven't split after Mrs O'Connor's comedy stand up show late last night.
The grisly skies have unfortunately returned this morning and it has been raining quite heavily overnight - what an unwelcome contrast to the glorious sunny skies yesterday. The email we received last night from the climbing people at Sandown Rocks was highly optimistic about it going ahead this morning...they know better than I but it doesn't look ideal climbing weather to me. If we can't do it at this late second attempt, we can throw Plan C into action. Whatever we do, I'm sure the final day will be every bit as good as the rest of the week. Your children have been wonderful and they have really, really enjoyed themselves. In the case of some individuals, I have never seen them so animated, so confident and so happy as this week; in the case of other individuals, they have been even more animated, even more confident and even happier than ever...it's been that sort of week - it has been a pleasure and a privilege to be part of.
The usual blog pattern for the final day is that once we leave the hotel and set off home, I will then revert to typing everything onto Word which I will then copy onto here at some point this evening when we get back to school. You can then 'enjoy' (if that's what you choose to call it) reading the final chapter tonight. I have done my absolute best to involve the whole party in my inane ramblings this week and hope it has given you a tiny flavour of what has been going on this week. The children have not seen any of what has been written although they are aware and excited that certain events or comments were being posted- they have been brilliant sports all week and we have shared lots of very funny moments. Once again they have proved that they are an exceptional class led by an exceptional teacher...and her Orang utan :-)
Ok, I can actually hear some movement somewhere nearby; I think it may be Mrs Holt waking the girls upstairs. I'm off to collect a large steel bucket and a hammer to wake the boys...wish me luck. Back soon...
STOP PRESS...I'm going to need something more than the steel bucket and a hammer. Room 8 has turned into a scene from Cocoon- all I could find in there were curled up bundles with no definitive head end..although I think I have identified Joe as I could see one bundle with 2 ears popping out of the duvet. Over in Room 7 there is a mummy...I'm not actually sure who it is because they have wrapped their complete body in white. I'm going to quickly scrawl some hieroglyphs on there, photograph it and send it to The British Museum... I could be hailed worldwide as a modern day Howard Carter :-) Jacques' bunk is shrouded with towels hanging from the upper rails...I was going to peep between the dangling material but I've seen Jaws - I'll never forget the first time that shark leaped out the water...it stays with you. As I've not seen the t-shirt since Wednesday I'm not taking any chances. It's now 7.20am and I don't hear too many footsteps upstairs. I expect Mrs Holt and co are finding it equally challenging up in the different world - even the Winter Gardens Ballroom is quiet...no morning dance classes today. More updates soon...
8.05am...25 minutes to breakfast and we are on schedule. Amazing really but we are. Plenty of suitcases are already lined up ready for the off. I'm impressed! Outside it's still not great climbing weather...it needs to clear up.
8.15am...15 minutes to breakfast and the last few cases are making their way downstairs. I've just taken part in an all-in wrestling match with a bag in The Winter Gardens ballroom. As we pushed and pressed and squashed and yanked the zip to get it closed, Emilia giggled and said "This is what you call a girl's suitcase Mr Tindall".
STOP PRESS 2...First bag packed and ready to go was Calvin who, once again, was sitting casually on his bed looking like he'd just got in from night shift. I know the case has been opened this week but it almost looked like he'd simply slid it under the bunk on Monday and reversed it back out this morning. Classy stuff from our resident crocodile.
STOP PRESS 3...Orang utan is now awake :-)
As I sit here surrounded now by the children and reflecting on my posts this week, it has just jumped into my head that my very first post this week took place whilst lying on the floor in Room 8 in order to find a wifi hotspot. Little did I know what would follow in there subsequently...thank goodness the festering mounds had not had time to spawn on Monday.
8.25am...5 minutes until breakfast...which is just as well as Sophie, who is sitting beside me on the sofa, has just said "I'm reeeeeaaallllyyyy hunnnnggggrrrryyyyy!" These children eat really well - it has fuelled them all week, in some cases like Duracell batteries :-)
Ok, time to go and eat. See you all soon...
9.15am...coach packed, all renegade socks rounded up and accounted for and we are ready to leave. Moving the bags to the coach, Ella pointed at Amit's case with horror etched across her face "Oh my goodness, how can you manage with a case that small!" she said. Therein lies the basic difference between the ground floor and the different world on the landing above. On that note, I think it's time to close the keyboard, pack the laptop in the bag and set sail for England (as Amit said yseterday when he was 'looking for some sweets that you can't buy in England'). Fabulous comment, fabulous trip, the skies are brightening...climbing may yet be on the agenda. Over and out until we meet again in Addlestone...
5.20pm Hello again for the very final time. I'm now back sitting in the office and everyone happily has been collected and gone home for a well earned rest. Below is the remainder of the action from earlier today which I typed on the coach on the way home. Enjoy...
We left the hotel bang on schedule at 9.30am and made the 5 minute drive to Sandown Rocks climbing centre. The weather was bright enough on arrival to start straight away so the children donned their harnesses and helmets and got set to roll. There are two different rock structures which I have christened The Matterhorn and Half Dome due to their distinctive shapes. First up the lower part of Half Dome was Sophie who then abseiled through the hole…a little reluctantly at first but that’s another tick in the ‘fear conquered’ box this week. Despite being wrapped up in a black waterproof jacket with hood, The Penguin was feeling cold. “I’m sort of regretting wearing shorts now” she said. I guess she was out of her comfort zone as there was no ice or snow in sight…it must be a different type of cold in the Antarctic :-) Emily then scampered up Half Dome like a spider up a drainpipe – what a star! Venere, wearing one of the biggest grins of the week was virtually at the top when she turned and shouted “I’m scared”. I can testify that Venere’s scaredy face is distinctly different to Lucas’ scaredy face witnessed on the pirate ship on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, over on The Matterhorn, Jacques was battling away encouraged from below by the rest of the boys…who were certainly talking a good climb. I pondered on whether they would be able to climb a good climb as well? Sophia then scurried straight to the top of Half Dome like a rock lizard…totally awesome. Danny Dyer the Dalek was also remarkably good but his running croaky-voiced commentary was even more entertaining. “I can’t hold on…I’m coming down…I can’t hold on…exterminate, exterminate”…or words to that effect. Priceless entertainment; you couldn’t make this up. Glancing back at The Matterhorn Lucas appeared to be doing a lot of swinging on the rope but not making much vertical progress. He appeared to be airborne most of the time like some sort of Sandown Spiderman but his huge smile suggested he was having a great time. As Saskia was abseiling through the hole on Half Dome, over on The Matterhorn the man with 2 ears was two thirds of the way to the top which is impressive considering he was wearing all 3 of the identical Miami t shirts he apparently brought with him this week J His dad is a roofer…with a saw…judging by his climbing, the 2 eared man has clearly been moonlighting as a roofing apprentice during school holidays. On Half Dome Pippa the Penguin was going really well and almost at the top when she lost her grip. Never mind, I was impressed as I expect it must be difficult to climb with flippers :-)
Next up was William who thankfully managed to reaffirm the dignity of man by getting an outstretched hand to the top – great work William! From below, one of the boys shouted “William, can I have your wetsuit when you get down?” Hmm, maybe there was something strange in that fumigation spray The SAS used in Room 8 last night…it appears it may have messed with their minds. Thank goodness I was wearing my bio-chemical suit, I think my mind is already messed enough. I then spotted Ghia getting ready to climb. Ghia has spent most of the week carrying a backpack full of rocks so I was fascinated to watch her actually climbing some instead. In all fairness, she did quite well. Ellie then flew to the top of Half Dome (another gold star for the girls) followed by the ever smiling Monique – they are fearless these girls…no wonder we had such a fantastic football team this year.
Sweeping my eyes back to The Matterhorn I spotted an elegant figure dressed all in black. It was Cat Woman…oh no, wait a minute, it was Ella looking to eclipse the 2 eared man. She was also two thirds of the way to the top and level with his mark when she lost grip; impressive climbing from someone who struggled to get up this morning. The encouragement from below throughout this entire festival of entertainment and dare-devilry was fantastic. This group have really strengthened their bonds of friendship this week. I truly hope they continue like this in the future as it is heart-warming to watch them and listen to them. It was exactly due to this friendship and encouragement that Sophie was driven to reach the top of Half Dome on her second climb. Sensational stuff! Calvin the climbing Crocodile was going well….he was midway up Half Dome when he suddenly said “I’m just going to jump” Either Calvin is a secret extreme thrill seeker or the peak of his crocodile cap was hitting the rock face too much. Back on dry stones below he said “That was good…but my hands hurt” And there was me thinking crocs had armour plating…and feet rather than hands :-) Shortly afterwards, Daniel reached the top to ensure William will have at least one male climbing partner for his forthcoming Himalayan expedition.
With only 2 minutes to midday, Sophia was crowned the undisputed Queen of the Rocks when she scaled the massive peak of The Matterhorn. Next stop El Capitan in Yosemite National Park I think, especially as Roscoe (the instructor) described her as being ‘exceptionally talented’. Inspired by Sophia, Sam reached the top of Half Dome. That’s good, they can now climb as a trio of boys in the Himalayas which will be safer if they come across The Abominable Snowman. My final comment on the climbing is left to Conor who was struggling his way up The Matterhorn lower section. “This is a problem” he said in a raspy voice which had moved away from a Dalek into something very similar to Vito Corleone in The Godfather. All very menacing indeed. The rock may have been a problem but there have been very few other problems on this trip – it’s been a well-oiled machine all week.
We got back on the coach and drove over to Yarmouth for the 2pm ferry back to Lymington. This is a new route for us and on the way we passed through the quaint village of Godshill which brought lots of ‘ooohs’ and ‘aaahs from my staff colleagues. They liked the pretty thatched cottages…how sweet. We then had our lovely picnic lunch on the coach. I must say, Lou & Gary do a fabulous pack-up with proper soft wholemeal rolls, proper cheese, proper ham. I know that may sound strange but we’ve all been on residential trips to the Isle of Wight with different hotels before…and it’s not always like this. Top, top marks to Mrs Holt for swooping on the opportunity to book Bertram Lodge this year. By the time we had reached Yarmouth the sun had come out and the sky was a brilliant blue colour. It was the perfect farewell from the island at the end of a perfect week. Behind me, the staff were holding a little quiz challenge “If you could only ever eat one chocolate bar, what would it be?” Mrs Holt asked. “All of them, I don’t have a favourite, they’re all nice” Mrs Capindale fired back instantly. They then started talking about sweets…it’s clearly been a demanding week for them :-)
1.50pm…we are sitting in the queue about to board the ferry. Mrs Holt is now surfing the internet via the medium of her I-phone in search of ‘more monkeys to keep Orang utan company’. She seems to be doing well judging by the ‘oohing’ and ‘aahing’ sounds. Apparently there are lots…we could be witnessing the beginning of something quite huge right here on the IOW blog 2015. Mrs Holt has now just asked “Year 6, who’s got Bertie?” (Mrs Holt has now named her new sidekick). He has swung his way down the coach from the back and they have been re-united…Mrs Holt is telling him that he is about to go on a ferry. I don’t suppose he’s been on a ferry across The Solent before. I’m off to say some prayers that he will not get sea-sick. Bye for now…
3.40pm Hello again everyone. Well, here we are on the final stage of the 2015 Year 6 Isle of Wight trip. Your children are about an hour from being home. They have had a fantastic week full of fun and real-life learning all under the expert care of our amazing staff. Last night before bedtime, Mrs Holt and I both gave our traditional end of trip speeches which gives us an opportunity to talk to the children about how we feel about them. We are both exceptionally proud of them, not only for what they have done this week, but for what they have achieved this year. Although the SAT’s results are not yet back, they have done what they know to be my personal number one expectation….they have matured into polite, reliable, responsible and caring young people. They are true Holy Family ambassadors. I’m very hopeful that the test results will take care of themselves. We still have a packed six and half weeks of the school year left but I am in no doubt that they are now ready for secondary school. I know I will be very sad to see them leave but I also know they will go on to achieve great success in the future. This is the true reward of being a teacher and this is what keeps me coming back year on year despite the actions of Mr Cameron, Mr Gove and latterly Ms Morgan. This morning Gary (the coach driver) gave his own short speech on the microphone in the coach. He thanked the children for being one of the most brilliant groups he’s ever had and for having impeccable manners all week. He concluded by saying “Children, you have done yourselves, your parents, your teachers and your school proud.” Gary is ex-army and was a traffic cop for 30 years – he meant what he said; this speech was no soft soaping sentimentality. I couldn’t see Mrs Holt but I expect she had more than a single tear in her eye.
I hope you have found the blog informative, interesting and it has kept you entertained since Monday. Please feel free to request a paper copy if you would like to keep my inane ramblings as part of a bigger commemorative package alongside Mrs O’Connor’s photos, any souvenirs collected by your child and the DVD of our show from Shanklin Theatre. If you appear on Antiques Roadshow in the future to get the package valued, my bit won’t be worth much on its own but at least it completes the set. Please accept my apologies for the frequent typos (some due to tiredness, some due to the jolting of the coach) or if I did not feature your child as often as others – there is absolutely no bias or favouritism in the trip blog, it just depends on who speaks the most or does the silliest things the most. A Year 6 trip is made special by all 30 children and your children have all been very special this week. Please make sure they get plenty of rest this weekend…we’ve got two big athletics competitions next week and they’ve got a play to put on early next month. Thank you also to you all for your support, particularly financially, to ensure this trip went ahead; we couldn’t do any of the great things in school without you. If you fancy a trip to the Isle of Wight after reading all about it, I’m sure your children will be only too pleased to be your guides :-)
Finally, my sincerest heartfelt thanks to our sensational staff team led by the indefatigable Mrs Holt. To Mrs Capindale, Mrs O’Connor and Mrs Osborn (who has just promoted herself to co-piot and navigator on the coach), thank you so, so much for giving up your time and your family life to make this trip one in a million. Mrs O’Connor I will invoice you for the glue to put my sides back together J:-) To Mrs O’Neil, Mrs Smith and the rest of the team back at school, thank you for keeping everything running so smoothly in our absence – Holy Family truly is a magnificent team :-)
Until 2016, it’s over and out from me, just past Junction 7 of the M3.
Goodbye and God bless everyone who was associated with this wonderful trip