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Friday 8th June

Check here for the final day of action from the 2018 Year 6 trip to the Isle of Wight. This will feature a brief posting or two between 7.00 - 9.00am followed by a main posting around 4.30pm when we return to school.

6.45am - Good morning from Sandown for the final time in 2018. I can happily report that all is quiet in Bertram Lodge after a quiet night. Everyone is fine...although I was woken up this morning at 5.30am by the screeching squawking of a distressed seagull. I couldn't pinpoint the exact location of the seagull but deduced it must have recently escaped from the carnage of room 1. This is based on 2 solid factual pieces of evidence:

1. Finlay 'lives' in room 1 and declared on Wednesday at Robin Hill that "seagulls are not very nice"

2. Room 1 is dangerous to all life forms. Exposure to room 1 for more than 2 minutes at a time will lead to an automatic 6 month quarantine period.

Once again, for evidence, I turn to the medium of pictures. Please click on the link below for a live snap shot taken of the last human to escape from room 1

Breakfast today is at 8am so I will need to move soon to start waking the troops. The  Friday wake up circuit is always very challenging and quite a few children still have some last minute packing to get finished. At breakfast today, Gary & Lou (hotel owners) will announce the winners of the tidiest room and best table competitions whilst we will get the opportunity to thank them for being such caring and kind hosts. We really are very fortunate to call Bertram Lodge or home from home whilst in The Isle of Wight.. I will try to post a few golden nuggets this morning between now and 9.00am just to help you experience the scenes from afar then I will revert back to the red book for the rest of the day. Everything will be typed into Word on the coach journey home then pasted to the website as soon as I can on return.

I hope you have enjoyed following the blog this year and that it has served its purpose of helping you share the trip from afar with your children. It has been a very successful, fun week but you will be getting some tired bodies returning home. Parents of boys...beware when you open the bags...some are stuffed in such a disorganised manner they are likely to spring up with more g force than a shuttle launch whilst goodness only knows what resides deep in the recesses of others. If you have a bio-chemical suit, I suggest you put it on.

Editors note: The above comments clearly do not apply to the parents of the doctor and his incredibly tidy super suitcase :-)

Ok, it's now 7.15pm so I'm off to do my morning duty...more news later.

7.30am - I can officially announce that room 4 has also been declared a major threat to human health and life. I can't see any way they will be tidy and packed up by 8am. Judging by the lack of life in the bunks, I think they've even managed to contaminate themselves beyond repair...the gazelle is certainly not very gazelle-like at the moment. Along the corridor from Mrs Capindale & Mrs O'Connor's room, I can hear the drone of a hairdryer in action...although this is quite loud so it could be that they've hired an industrial sized leaf blower for the clean up operation. After all, their room is directly opposite room 4 and does share a connecting wall with room 1. I'd best get out there to double check before starting circuit 2...My attempts to wake people on circuit 1 have so far proven woefully inadequate. If it were an official Ofsted grading category we'd be in trouble. As Arnie Schwarzenegger once said "I'll be back..."

8.10pm - We're packed and now waiting to start breakfast. The children are sitting with me in the lounge and we've just had a brilliant whole class chanting/clapping thing which I can only describe as a 'Holy Family Haka'. This started on Monday with only the style twins knowing how to do it and it has grown and multiplied across the week. It's fantastic and yet another example of how a residential visit brings children closer together and strengthens friendships. If you watch and listen carefully, the Holy Family Haka may well make its official premiere at the leavers assembly :-)

Ok, breakfast is served and smells delicious. The lounge is now a very lonely place so I'm off to join the rest. More news later...

9.15am - We are about to leave Bertram Lodge but just before we do I need to update you on the competition judging. Firstly, the tidiest table award went to Table 2. Congratulations to Bella, Antony, Rhian, Gaby, Freddie and the Gazelle...oh and Darcie who made a substitute appearance on this table  on Wednesday...this must have been a supporting factor.

The tidiest room competition was stormed by room 3. It was a landslide comparison to room 1, who were simply a landslide. If you placed a hefty wager on room 3, enjoy your trip to the Caribbean :-) Ok,it's almost time to say goodbye to Bertram Lodge for another year. I will switch to the red book now to record all the action with the monkeys. Lia has just informed me that we are hoping to find a friend for Bertie and she will be called Bertina. Exciting stuff.

Until later, it's over and out from The Blog Bloke on the leather sofa in the lounge...

5.00pm - We're back...but most of you already know as you were there to greet us as we returned. Firstly, before I post the final action of the 2018 trip, on behalf of all the staff I would like to thank all parents for your thoughtfulness and kindness in presenting us with gifts. It means such a lot to know that you appreciate the things we do. This is what makes Holy Family such a very special school community and why it remains a great privilege to be part of it. Ok, let's now rewind to earlier this morning when we were still on the Isle of Wight. Enjoy...

We left Bertram Lodge at 9.15am and began the short drive to Monkey Haven. It wasn’t long before the staff slipped seamlessly into their animal themed conversations when Mrs O’Connor said “Oh look at those lovely lambs.”

“Ooh, I love lamb, especially with mint sauce. Do you?” Mrs Capindale replied. Judging by her face, this is not the kind of lamb love Mrs O’Connor had in mind. We then had a nostalgic trip down 1970’s TV memory lane with stories of Larry the Lamb and Lamb Chop. Mrs Holt then burst into an impromptu repertoire of sheep and lamb calls, perfected on her many trips to the Cotswolds. Apparently, Mrs Holt is able to translate sheep and lamb conversations and “knows when a mummy sheep is telling off a lamb.” I’m pleased I was unaware of this fact before being invited “to take some fresh air comrade” last night. This would have added an extra unbearable layer of sinister menace far worse than the henchmen with the steel pipes up their sleeves. Perhaps I should re-name Mrs Holt’s room 9 movie ‘Silence of the Lambs’.

Fortunately we soon arrived at Monkey Haven where Bertie was first off the coach like the bullet out of a gun, Maddison being dragged along behind. Last year, Monkey Haven was the scene of one of the greatest answers in school journey history when the park keeper asked “What is a homosapien?” and one of the boys replied (totally seriously) “Is it an ape that hasn’t fully evolved yet?”

So, I entered the park with great anticipation. Mrs Holt said “When you look at the other monkeys, it makes you realise how dishevelled Bertie is now.” This is an accurate observation but a little harsh as the other monkeys have not been through a full spin cycle of Mrs Holt’s tumble drier. Our park keeper tour guide arrived and introduced herself as Lily-May. She started by explaining the role of the park as a rescue centre for primates that have been neglected, mistreated or abused. I could see Bertie nodding to himself; clearly he has not forgotten being excluded from the tree climbing on Tuesday. Mrs Holt may yet need protection from her henchmen with their trench coats and steel pipes…and her scary sheep linguistics.

First stop on the tour was the meerkat enclosure. They were all there so clearly were enjoying a day off from filming the Coronation Street ads. They were tremendously entertaining to watch…unlike Coronation Street. “What jobs do they do?" Lily-May asked. “Caretaker?” someone whispered. An interesting response and one that led me to look more closely for a grey haired one carrying a cup of coffee, large slice of cake and talking in a Dublin accent…whilst pulling coins from magic money trees. Following this we moved on to the white-throated capuchins who wowed us with their acrobatics and gymnastics. They reminded me of Olivia B, Isabel, Lia & Bella at their best. One of the capuchins came right up to the wire of the cage and stared straight at Freddie, Adam and Lukas. It pulled 2 other capuchins close and whispered in their ear. I know what it was saying although unlike Mrs Holt, I am not Dr Doolittle. “Watch out guys, that lot there have escaped from room 1. Keep well away and watch them at all times. I’m just popping off to check all our inoculations are up to date.”

Lily-May then led us to visit Kookie the laughing kookaburra which apparently chuckles and laughs loudly all the time…a bit like one of our staff, no names mentioned…although I did notice Kookie was carrying a long lens camera. The Javan langurs were next and this is where things took a turn into the realms of Arthur C Clarke’s world of mysterious adventures. One of the langurs is nicknamed ‘Abe’ as he bears a striking resemblance to Abraham Lincoln…and shares the same birthday on February 12th...Spooky indeed. Lily-May said “Langurs are very smelly because of their diet. What do you think they eat?”

“Cauliflower?” Callum immediately shouted. A novel response and in all fairness to Callum he, along with Antony and Dr Spreadbury, was asking some fantastic questions and getting fully involved with the learning.

Next enclosure housed the black & white ruffed lemurs. These attractive creatures can only be found in the wild in Madagascar. Sadly, only 10% of their natural habitat remains making them critically endangered. Lemurs came before monkey in pre-evolution terms which, by my calculations, puts them just after politicians in the evolutionary scale. Lily-May then left us to complete our tour on our own so I headed off to find the colobus monkeys. Two new residents named Ulna and her daughter Thumbalina were in the enclosure. Naming her Thumbalina is an example of classic irony from the park staff as colobus monkeys have no thumbs. They are thumbless…which is the main reason none of you have ever seen one hitching a lift up the M6.

Up at the grivet cage, a solitary creature was throwing a towel on the ground and chewing it manically. I made a close visual inspection of the enclosure to locate the plasma screen as I’m convinced it had been watching a live video feed from room 1 all week. Moving on to the barbary macaques, we found out that these monkeys get scared when they see people laugh or smile as they think it’s a sign of potential attack. This probably explains why they turned down the offer of replacing Peter Kay on his recent cancelled UK tour but list Jose Mourinho as their favourite football manager. It also makes them perfect candidates to work for Ofsted or the DFE. Barbary macaques are the monkeys you will see on the Rock of Gibraltar which is the only place in Europe where you will find monkeys living in the wild. On the return route to the gift shop and lunch I came across Mrs Holt who was extending her linguistic skills by talking to the meerkats. It all sounded very strange to me but the meerkats appeared to understand and respond. Now I know why Mr Gorman gets Year 6 requests for jobs completed so quickly. We then had lunch and went in the shop where Mrs Holt stayed true to her promise and selected a new best mate for Bertie. Common consensus outside was that ‘he looks like a boy’ and Antony came up with the cool name of ‘Bertram’. And so he was christened and welcomed to the Holy Family family. Quite appropriate really that the last new member of this class should name the new addition and it was a clever choice with a nice link to our hotel alongside a pleasant ring to it. Bertie & Bertram…sounds a bit like a city law firm which is always handy to have access to on a Year 6 residential.

We then boarded the coach and drove to Yarmouth to catch the ferry back to Lymington. We set sail and the children waved goodbye to the Isle of Wight and their 2018 experience. The sun was out and everyone looked relaxed and together. They’ve really bonded well this week and enjoyed it immensely. On the ferry I caught up with Bella, Dr Spreadbury  and Olivia F to ask them to design the perfect day on the Isle of Wight. This is what they came up with:

8am - Breakfast

9am – Tree climbing at Goodleaf in Ryde

12pm – lunch on the beach

1pm – Surfing at Wight Water

4pm – Theatre workshop  at Shanklin Theatre

6pm – Dinner

7.30pm – Show at Shanklin Theatre

9.30pm – Ten pin bowling

Wow, that sounds like an amazing day. Action packed...but amazing...although apparently it’s not yet complete as Leon & Jessica (who has just arrived) would like a party at 11pm followed by a movie at midnight. The following day, the teachers would be booked into the nearest country hotel for a spa experience (my suggestion) or more likely an institution for burnt out people. I would certainly be calling on Bertie & Bertram, attorneys at law, for legal advice on the terms of my contract.

Well, on that bombshell, I will bring the Ben Hur/El Cid of blogs to a close for 2018. If you have made it this far, then please book yourself into a country hotel for a spa experience. If you need assistance with funding, please contact the debating duo for a current market valuation of any collections you may hold at home. Thank you for joining us on our journey from Addlestone to Sandown and back again…which I’m sure has some sort of link to Tolkein’s fantasy world trilogies.

Thank you to all our parents for making it all possible with your support and backing. When your children have had a rest, I’m sure they will tell you all about it from their own perspective. Thank you also to Mrs O’Neil and the rest of the amazing Holy Family staff team for holding the fort and taking on extra duties and responsibilities whilst we’ve been away; a successful Year 6 residential really requires a whole school team effort.

Finally, a massive thank you to Miss Hodson, Mrs O’Connor and Mrs Capindale for your amazing work, dedication, care and constant good humour all week and of course to Mrs Holt for her usual inspirational organisation and trip leadership.  We are truly blessed to have such special people in our school.

Everything you have read this week is based entirely, or more than occasionally loosely, on fact. No children, staff or animals were hurt in the making of this epic tale. The content of this blog is the property of the Holy Family Year 6 children of 2018.

Until 2019…when Mr & Mrs Spreadbury will need to go through my inane ramblings once again, it’s over and out from the Blog Bloke, on the ferry as we approach docking at Lymington.  Goodbyeeeeeee.

If Carlsberg made school journeys…