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Day One of the trip...

8.10pm Good evening everyone from Sandown! We've arrived, there's a howling gale and pouring rain outside but we're tucked inside our cosy hotel, everyone has eaten well and we're ready to listen to our storyteller. Thanks to Mrs O'Neil and her technical wizardry, we are up and running with the official blog page and I'm all set to post the first instalment in the tales of our travels.

I will be back very soon with the details of all the action that has unfolded today...

Right, here we go…

The coach was waved off by the parents at 10.05am and the 2017 IOW trip was officially underway. Travelling down the A3 I was contemplating the week ahead and the room allocations I’d just been given whilst Mrs Holt sat alongside me singing her new mobile phone number to herself. Said number has been written on a silicon wristband for all the children to wear this week. Mrs Holt is clearly not planning to wear a silicon band herself. As the numbers drifted on the air I realised the rain was splashing down on the windscreen of the coach.

“It’s looking brighter ahead” Mrs Capindale suddenly announced.

“That’s ok, I’ve got 3 cagoules in my bag…although one doesn’t have a hood” Mrs Holt replied effortlessly amongst the O78 etc etc number recital

Mrs Capindale has previous ‘form’ when it comes to bizarre methods of weather forecasting so, although it looked very grey to me, I wasn’t going to argue…the 2015 incident of the weather forecasting cows remains fresh in the memory.

Approaching the Hindhead tunnel the sun came out. I turned around and Mrs Capindale smiled. Forget Accuweather and The Met Office; if you want weather information, call Mrs Capindale and her magic cows.

We arrived in Portsmouth on schedule and headed into the Naval Dockyard to begin exploring. In true style, first activity was lunch…where Charlie lost a tooth. Losing a tooth appears to be an annual occurrence for Year 6 boys on the trip so Mrs Holt was soon on hand to expertly deal with the situation. No worries there…although I think the tooth fairy may find it a tricky crossing of The Solent tonight if the predicted high winds show up.

After lunch we made our way out to visit The Mary Rose. On the way we approached HMS Victory where Shae asked Mrs Holt the first of her many questions:

“Is that The Mary Rose?”

Mrs Holt: The Mary Rose is only half a ship Shae.”

Shae turned to me looking slightly bemused. “I can only see half a ship” she said.

“That’s because the other half is on the other side Shae” I replied. Let’s hope I manage to answer all the other questions as quickly this week :-)

Before going into The Mary Rose exhibition, Mrs Holt gathered the group to ask some questions (and take advantage of Mrs Capindale’s sunny weather).

Mrs H: Where did The Mary Rose sink?

Child: In the sea.

Mrs H: Yes, but where?

Child: Over there (pointing at the sea).

Technically an accurate answer although it did make me chuckle as it resembled something from The Two Ronnies. Inside the exhibition we split into 3 groups and I headed in first with Miss Hodson and our 14 children. It is a fascinating exhibition and the children were very impressed with the ship and the amazing history. I was equally impressed with the many excellent questions asked and the interesting observations made. Particular praise here must go to Niall, Aoife, Ella and Izzabella who were real superstars.

In the zone describing the work of the ship surgeon I came across Charlie and Mateo watching a short film showing the surgeon treating a particularly disgusting wound.

Charlie: What’s that stuff he’s pouring in the wound?

Mateo pondered before replying “I don’t know…it may be holy water…or maybe beer.”

I guess if you’ve got a disgusting wound to treat, either would do the job.

Meanwhile, Mrs Holt had made her way into the same area where a guide was giving a talk to her group.

“Do you know what cauterising a wound means?” she asked enthusiastically. What followed was an answer of genuine genius from Michael.

“Does it mean cutting it into 4 pieces?” he asked.

Now, maybe it was something lost in the pronunciation but that is a cracking answer and will take some beating for tickling the ribs this week.

Moving onwards, my group arrived at an area describing various jobs on board the ship where we found a dressing up box. Niall unearthed a head-dress. “Oh look Mr Tindall, I think this is for a nun” he said.

“Did they have many nuns on board The Mary Rose?” I asked him.

“Hmmm, maybe not. Do you think it’s for a maid?” he tried again.

“Well, did they have many…” my voice trailed off. At this point I decided it was wise to quit and move onwards.  We visited each floor of the exhibition before meeting up with the other 2 groups in the shop. All in all, this was a very interesting, informative and educational visit where the children behaved beautifully.

Outside I spotted Michael looking a little anxious. “Are you alright Michael?” I asked.

“Yes…err…well…what has happened to our cases?”

“Why? Do you have stash of gold bullion hidden in there?”

“No, just my clothes, I just wanted to make sure they’re ok” he concluded. Such care and concern for his clothes ia an admirable quality but I’m not fooled. This is very interesting; I think I may just check the weight of his suitcase later. If it’s very heavy there may be a slight delay with my next posting as I make my way to a sunny beach bar in The Caribbean. If not, well then I guess it’s a rainy hotel in Sandown :-)  Whatever happens with the case, I think it may be worth keeping an eye on Michael’s wardrobe choices this week…I’m already loving the Metallica t-shirt.

I then noticed Samuel and Joseph plugged into an I-pod. They were bobbing along in sync which looked pretty cool. “What are you two listening to?” I asked.

 “The Black Eyed Peas” Samuel replied.

I couldn’t believe my luck, bearing in mind that Joseph supports the wrong team in Manchester. “Cool…did you know The Black Eyed Peas have played in more Champions League Finals than City?” I asked them with a grin. Samuel smiled. Joseph winced…such is life following the blues. The derby games weren’t exactly the most productive for United this season so every little opportunity must be taken in the endless game of banter with the neighbours :-)

Mia then approached looking as concerned as Michael had been previously. She was wearing a considerable frown. “What are we doing next? she asked.

“I think we’re going into the other museum, is that ok?”

“Yes, I just want to make sure I don’t get my hair wet” Mia replied. You can probably tell by this conversation that Mrs Capindale’s sunny weather had disappeared and it was raining…quite steadily. Moments later it started to really pour down. I looked over. Mia had a coat literally wrapped around her whole head like an extra from Lawrence of Arabia. Clearly keeping her hair dry is equally important to Mia as Michael’s case of gold bullion.

Final stop in Portsmouth was Boathouse 4 where there were several games and fun interactive displays. Proving very popular was a boat race game where you had to twirl a handle to make the boat beat the other 3 in the race. It was like one of those games you see at Blackpool Pleasure Beach except in this one, technique was the key to success. Some children were spinning the handle like a deranged creature from Lord of The Rings and risking third degree burns to the hands as a result, whilst others, notably Francesca, were operating with a serenity reminiscent of someone punting on a tranquil river in the Cotswolds. After winning two races on the trot with her relaxed style, others began to catch on. Following Francesca with success were Suzanne, Michael and his gold bullion and Aidan, who won an amazing 6 races in a row before retiring to have reconstructive surgery to his right hand :-)  Happily I caught up with the champion soon afterwards grinning away to himself. “It was all worth it!” he exclaimed proudly.

Following all this high octane excitement we made our way back to the coach where I stumbled upon yet another fascinating conversation, this time between Thomas and Alice. They were debating the relative benefits of different modes of transport. Ferries v planes was the focus of the snippet I caught. Apparently, according to Thomas, “planes are better because you can get first class planes with wine and stuff,”


Well, there you have it in a nutshell. Move over Simon Calder as BBC travel expert, Thomas is in town now. We boarded the coach and headed for the ferry...where we waited quite a long time...and the rain got heavier. Once on board the ferry the rain became horizontal...and got heavier. The short drive from Fishbourne to the hotel saw the rain become diagonal...and heavier...oh, and the wind got up a bit more. I'm not fancying the tooth fairy's chances tonight at all. Dinner tonight was tomato soup, sausage, chips & peas followed by choc ice. It all seemed to go down well with the troops. The storyteller arrived and the tales of smuggling and secret meetings in darkened coves (remarkably similar in story;line to the dealings of Fifa I mused) began

9.50pm - Hello again. My watch tells me it's almost 10 o'clock but my brain is telling me I'm beyond midnight, stuck out on a wild moorland in the middle of a horror movie. That's what technical problems can do to a normally semi-sane person. There's all sorts of shenanigans going on here with the various electronic gadgets. I can't see anything on the I-Pad or Mrs Holt's I-Phone but apparently non-Windows based tablets/phones have access to my inane ramblings. It's all madness...and it's only Monday. The storyteller has finished, packed up and gone and I've missed the whole tale. The children are now settling down for a pre-bedtime drink and Mrs Holt will soon get into full speed ahead with her motivational sleep talk routine...complete with swinging watch on a chain, hypnotic ventriloquism with the orang utan and yoga. Oh, here we go, it's underway. "It's been 12 whole hours since you left school. That's a double school day so you will be very tired now..." She's now lowered her voice to a mere whisper...clever strategy...let's hope it works. The room allocation appears to have gone down well with most people, particularly with yours truly as I've finally made it off the ground floor into the hallowed heights of the half-landing :-) It's customary in my blog to relate the room antics to movie themes so I will keep you posted as the action unfolds this week. Mrs Holt is now in full northern flow..,"Mr Tindall and I will be coming round in 15 minutes to put the 'big light out". I'm not sure if you have a 'big light' down south but that's a classic staple quote of any self-respecting northerner. Mrs Holt is doing a grand wonder we do so well in SPAG :-)

 Outside there is wind and rain of biblical proportions and the palm tree by the window looks like it may become airborne at any time. Charlie's tooth fairy is going to have to work hard out there. Despite the less than summery weather and the technological gremlins it's been a great first day. I will post this now and send another quick note once t'big lights are out. Bye for now.  

10.25pm - I'm back downstairs after a jaunt up to the lofty heights of the boys' rooms. It's classic boys' room stuff up there. In Room 2  I spotted a dark shape huddled over a suitcase with clothes strewn everywhere. It was Michael, frantically rooting deep inside his case. He's either got some very precious clothes in there or there's gold in them there hills. I'm keeping a close eye on that :-)  In Room 3, Amir was parading around in circles pulling his bag behind him. "Amir, what are you doing?"  I asked.

"Well, I'm on the top bunk and I can't find anywhere to put this" he the very moment he passed the empty open wardrobe on his second lap. "I don't want to appear too radical and controversial Amir, but why don't you try the wordrobe?" I suggested. Amir smiled and deposited the bag safely. It will be quite happy in there all on its own this week; as usual all the others are using that respectable haven for boys clothes known widely as the floor. Interestingly, down on the ground floor in Room 8, they are apparently using the drawers to store their shoes...and therein lies the biggest conclusive evidence of a gender difference. I'm definitely not going to risk venturing into any second floor rooms this week when it's dark, there are booby traps everywhere.

STOP PRESS: According to Mrs O'Connor, Room 8 resembles a scene from Oceans Eleven with a major card game in full swing and Shae has just asked Mrs Holt 'to smell her face'. Maybe it's the windy conditions...or maybe it's just a normal night on a Year 6 residential. Right, time to lock down the second floor.I'm heading up there armed with a LED torch and a pair of steel toe-capped boots. More later...

11pm - job done! All the big lights are off up on the high ground and the boys have settled. I'm impressed. Gold stars all round, particularly for Callum & Rowan in Room 4 and Amir in Room 3, who obviously feels very relaxed now that his bag has a safe and spacious home in the empty wardrobe. All is fairly quiet inside Bertram Lodge...although the gale is still howling outside. Mrs Holt is claiming the weather will be better tomorrow but I'm worried as she's gathering this information on the internet. I'll be much happier if Mrs Capindale's magic cows give the thumbs up for a calmer day.  

11.30pm - If you've made it this far you deserve a medal...or at least a certificate in assembly. The hotel is quiet (apart from Mrs O'Connor obviously) and your children are recharging their batteries for the adventures ahead tomorrow. Speaking of which, Mrs Capindale is psyching herself up for her tour guiding duties at Osborne House. That group are in for a treat - more details tomorrow when hopefully some slight signs of summer may have returned. Love from everyone here on the island.