Friday 9th June
Good morning everyone for the final time this year from the red leather sofa in Sandown. It’s all quiet here, except for the sound of Mrs Holt’s pen as she works away at the coffee table next to me. She was there when I last sat here at midnight so I’m hoping she hasn’t been there all night.
Outside, the sun is doing its thing again; it’s going to be another beautiful summer day, just as it’s been all week. God has certainly blessed us with the best weather we could have hoped for. This morning we will get all the cases closed up, brought downstairs and loaded n to the coach. All manner of items claimed ‘lost’ were miraculously discovered under beds/festering mounds last night and we’ve done our very best to ensure the right clothes have ended up in the right bags…but who knows what you may find, particularly if your child inhabited either room 2 or room 6 this week. If the Fat Willys Surf Shack baseball cap makes it home to Mr & Mrs Moore, it has to be retired from service, mounted in an illuminated display case and proudly put on display in the living room. That cap has had more lives this week than a convention of cats; it’s been lost on every trip we’ve been on and was part of the EBay flash sale on Sandown Beach yesterday. At one point I was considering giving the cap its very own blog 😊
Interestingly, I’ve made several references to the existence of alien lifeforms up those stairs and it seems to have spread a minor pandemic amongst boys of ‘stolen voice box syndrome’. We had all manner of raspy, croaky people last night. At one point it was like being in a room with Darth Vader, the daleks, Danny Dyer and Sean Dyche. I think this is a by-product of lots of excitable screaming on rides/in the sea along with lots of talking…and all part of being on a Year 6 residential trip.
Right, it’s now 7am…time to wake them all up for the last time this week.
I’ll be back later…
Credit where credit is due, the boys have smashed the packing and clearing up operation with time to spare. The girls, on the other hand, are nowhere to be seen. Clearly, being tidy to a military standard comes with timing issues. I’m considering putting in an exceptional circumstances request, on behalf of the boys, to the judges of the tidiest room competition. It will be interesting to see who the hotel owners Diane, Mark and David select as their winner.
Stop Press: Whilst helping the goblin army to tidy up room 2, I was struck in the side of the head by a missile (beach ball) launched by the prospective new Tottenham manager. I am considering contacting Daniel Levy as surely Spurs don’t need another loose cannon as manager.
Room 3 (Shrek’s Swamp) have had an absolute stormer as a team all week. First to sleep every night and now everything tidied and packed away before 7.30am. Outstanding from Beau, Theo, Max, Riyad, Leon & Frankie. I actually think they’ve got an outside chance of being in the running for the tidiest room competition…although the competition from downstairs is likely to be far too strong. Let’s see what the hotel management team think…
David announced the winners during breakfast. Predictably, it was on the ground floor so congratulations to The Timmy Two Crew from room 1. After they had recovered from the shock of winning, Siobhan, Amelia, Darcey, Florence & Amelie looked delighted with their prizes. Florence kept shrugging her shoulders and looking at me with a puzzled expression.
“We thought we were quite untidy and had no chance” she said. To be fair to her, she had not witnessed the land that time forgot up on the first floor.
There was a short display of frustrated gesticulation from the boys in room 3 but this was short lived. Tidiness is all relative. It’s one thing comparing favourably to Middle Earth and the Lair of the Hound of the Baskervilles but standards on the ground floor were literally on a different level.
After our final breakfast together, we packed the coach, hopped aboard and waved goodbye to the Wighthill Hotel team of Diane, Mark and David. They have really looked after us all this week, served up delicious food and enjoyed the banter with the children. Happily, the feelings were mutual and they praised the children for their beautiful manners, helpfulness and good humour. If the trip is running in 2024, we have earned an invitation back. On behalf of Year 5, thank you Year 6.
We then made the very short journey to Dinosaur Isle and waited to meet our guide…who was certain to be a man in a floppy hat, carrying a backpack and little hammer. Whilst waiting, Nicholas said to me “Last night I had a dream where I was digging for fossils and I found a massive Velociraptor. I sold it for a few million”
Mr & Mrs Jones, if he’s not on the coach when we get back to Addlestone, he’s already aboard his new luxury yacht in the Adriatic. I suppose it’s only to be expected after recently absconding from a Benedictine monastery.
The fossil man then arrived and immediately starting talking to Miss Forsyth about the covert sign language used by the Secret Service in America to identify Ronald Reagan when he was POTUS. Apparently, this was a slow-motion gunslinger movement with the 2 forefingers bent. I’m not sure what this had to do with hunting dinosaur fossils but it got me thinking… goodness only knows what the covert sign language they used when Donny T was in The White House.
We wandered along the stunning sandy expanse of beach and stopped in the fossil hunting zone. Fossil Man explained that the rocks there are 120 million years old. Our planet never ceases to amaze and stagger me. It’s almost too much to comprehend. Rocks that are 120 million years old and quite a lot of them weren’t even grey. Maybe there’s hope for us all yet.
Fossil Man said “If you can find an interesting rock that is easy to carry, you can take it home as a souvenir. Maybe put it on your bedside table as a reminder of your time in the IOW.”
Looking at the size of the rocks that some of the boys were hauling around, I figured they were going to bypass the bedside table idea and build their own extension out of them. It may be wise at this point for Mr & Mrs Payne to check the Runnymede Planning Regulations for domestic dwellings built out of 120-million-year-old fossilized rocks.
After rock fest was done and some lovely souvenirs were gathered, we went into the museum where I immediately came across the type of word the DfE expect Year 1 children to read during the phonics screening test. ‘Koumpiedontosuchusaprosdokiti’.
I then saw ‘Ophthalmosaurus’ which I’m sure was question 10 in this years KS2 SAT’s Spelling test. Now I know where the DfE get their material for end of year assessments 😊
Wandering around, I bumped into Leah who pointed out a model of a T-Rex brain. Bearing in mind this walking killing machine was 40 feet long, 12 feet high and had 58 x 6-inch razor sharp teeth in a head that was 5 foot long, the brain was tiny by comparison. They can’t have been that smart…so probably would be a shoe-in for a modern-day job organising PPE & communicating to the general public during a global pandemic.
After a quick lunch and an even quicker spending frenzy in the shop, we jumped back on the coach and drove to Yarmouth where we are currently sitting waiting to board the ferry to Lymington. I’m typing in real time and the magnificent Isle of Wight 2023 trip is on the final leg. I will conclude the blog from my office when we return.
See you all around 4.15pm 😊
The Blog Bloke
We're safely home, and it's now time to bring this edition of The Blog Bloke's annual Isle of Wight ramblings to a conclusion. It has been a wonderful week of stunning sunny weather, laughter, new experiences, conquering fears and gaining independence. I hope the information on this page helped you to feel part of the trip and provided an insight into the madcap world of a Year 6 residential. We have further boosted our very high reputation on the island for being polite, well-behaved, engaged and responsible, along with making new friends.
The children would never have been able to make these memories without your support, encouragement & financial backing. Thank you for putting your faith and trust in our staff team. Speaking of staff, I want to end this blog by paying enormous tribute to the incredible group of individuals I am privileged to call my colleagues. Never underestimate just how much they care for the children they teach and work with each day. To watch them, day after day, show such patience, understanding, compassion and diligence is truly humbling. The team on the IOW this week, led by Mrs Holt, were exemplary in everything they did and said. I would like to say a very special heartfelt thank you to student teacher Miss Forsyth for her incredible contribution to the trip. To give up a whole week of your personal life for no remuneration shows a genuine commitment to young people.She will make an excellent teacher when she qualifies.
Also, I would like to pay tribute to those who are often overlooked or forgotten about during a Year 6 residential - the staff left behind at school to keep the ship afloat. Mrs O'Neil is charged with taking on my role as well as her own whilst the teachers and LSA's all cover duties and pick up responsibilities normally carried out by those who are away. A week-long residential trip has a huge impact on a one-form entry school, so it is testament to the skill, commitment and brilliance of the whole team that we can make it work so successfully. Thank you to everyone!
Finally, to the Year 6 children - get lots of rest this weekend and embed the happy memories in your mind forever.
Until 2024, it is over and out from The Blog Bloke...back in the black day-job seat.