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9.55am - The technical gremlins have been defeated thanks to a cavalry charge from Salesian by Daniel and we're all set to roll. Bring it on... the Isle of Wight 2019 blog is now rolling.

More news later...

7.20pm - Greetings everyone from Bertram Lodge, Sandown. We're now settled in and have just finished a huge dinner of tomato soup, sausage chips and peas followed by choc ice for dessert. The children ate well and are in high spirits. I'm sitting in the lounge watching the magician setting up..oh and listening to him. David Randini...he likes to talk...if his magic is half as good as his patter, this is going to be sensational.

Once the show begins I will post a full report of the days events, which by now you will be aware went slightly off the scheduled itinerary. I've often posted in previous blogs how proud I am of Holy Family children but never more than I was today. They were impeccable in their behaviour, response and attitude. Your children have done you all proud already.

Mr Randini has just done a warm up card trick involving monkeys and bananas. It was quite good although I'm not sure Bertie and Bertram were too impressed...apparently Orang utans don't like bananas. The children have now arrived in the lounge and David Randini is cracking up the banter. He's definitely mad. More news soon!


7.45pm - Totally bonkers is Mr Randini...and the children are loving it. He's actually a very competent magician - I'm looking very carefully and I can't see how he's doing these tricks. I'm starting to understand now how Phil Jones must feel every time he faces a new striker. That's obviously why he always looks so confused...and falls over a lot.

Right, let's rewind back to this morning...

Before everyone arrived, Mrs Holt proudly announced she had bought new buckets and spades from Amazon for the sandcastle competition. I was impressed, until she took them out of the bag. "They'd be good for the Borrowers" I said. The spades were the size of a tea spoon and I pondered that building a sandcastle with those would be a long old process. Maybe that's why it took them so long to build the new Wembley Stadium?  As the children started arriving, I noticed Patrick's mum wheeling the biggest suitcase this side of the equator. Patrick either has a small family of T-Rex stowed away in there or he's not planning on coming home for the next 5 years, After a slight delay, we boarded the coach and left school at 10.40am and enjoyed a smooth journey down the A3 to Portsmouth.

As we arrived in Portsmouth, Mrs O'Connor said "Look, can you see the Spinnaker Tower?" to which Gilberto replied "I can't see it, but I've just seen B&Q" I'm not sure the Hampshire Tourist Board have got B&Q in their promotional literature...perhaps I should give them a ring...they're obviously missing out on marketing a major attraction. After enjoying lunch on the grass, we boarded the ferry and left, slightly behind schedule, at 1.20pm. Up on the sun deck at the back of the ferry I wandered around the various tables to join in with the excitable conversations. I stumbled across Christopher Columbus, Ferdinand Magellan and Francis Drake formerly known as Rosa, Ella and Harriet who were having a fascinating discussion about the globe.

Rosa said "Mr Tindall, do you think the Earth is flat?"

"Err, no I don't" I replied. Rosa then told me how some 'crazy' people really believe the Earth is flat and the learned trio began to define why it can't be. Ella's overwhelming evidence was that "If the Earth was flat there would be no curved roads."

While I was trying to get my head around that, Rosa then added "Some people actually believe the Earth is shaped like a donut" and Harriet jumped in adding "That's crazy, if you were sailing around the world you would just fall through the hole in the middle." Wise words indeed from an intrepid captain of the seas. The discussion then became increasingly & impressively scientific so I decided to move on...where I then came across the foremost meteorologists of th land in deep discussion about cloud formations.

"I think that cloud looks like a dragon" Mrs Rawlinson said pointing at a cloud.

"No, it's definitely a duck" Keira repiled.

I took off my sunglasses for a closer look. I looked really was white and fluffy. It looked like a cloud to me. I had obviously disappointed them with my analysis so I moved on where I bumped into Patrick pointing to the flags fluttering in the breeze.

"Look, there's an England flag and a red and white one.That's probably because the boat was made in Poland" he announced proudly. 

Editor's note: as a disclaimer, Patrick later claimed that although the boat was made in Poland, the CCTV cameras had clearly been fitted (in the wrong place) in England.

Following the unexpected events as we disembarked the ferry, there was a short amendment to the itinerary for a few of us then we made our way to Sandown Beach for the sandcastle competition. Fortunately, several of the children had brought along their own castle building equipment however others got to work using the Borrowers spades. It was all pretty frantic stuff, particularly for a large group of boys who appeared to be tunnelling their way to France....supervised by Patrick who was casually leaning on his spade.

Not far away, but sensibly up on a better patch of sand, the anthropologists, better known as Ollie, Harry C & Isaac, were busily creating their masterpiece called 'Zoo of Pig'. This consisted of 4 separate sand sculptures of Percy Pig (inspired by the soft, pink M&S sweets), Steve the Turtle (I decided not to ask where that inspiration came from), Kim the Koala and Peter Piglet. Apparently 'Zoo of Pig' started out as the Champions League trophy but it went badly wrong. Sounds a bit like a synopsis of the season at Old Trafford.

Further along the beach, the girls were working away with an air of serenity and purpose, assisted by Mrs Holt who had found an Indiana Jones man lying in the sand. Not a real Indiana Jones man obviously but I did point out that he was the perfect size to be given one of the Amazon spades and told to start digging pronto. Amoya-May had decided to work on a solo project so Indiana moved onwards with his tiny spade. Amoya's sandcastle was incredible, almost Disney-like in its design and appearance. It was a work of art, the sort of thing they create on Masterchef...although out of sand obviously.  I was very impressed, Amoya could easily get a summer job at the famous 'Sandworld'  tourist attraction in Weymouth.

Next I happened upon Joseph, Conor and Luke who had built the City of Pompeii complete with Mount Vesuvius, white lava and lookout towers They'd made a really good job of it and were suitably pleased with themselves.

"Is there a prize for this?" Keira then asked. "There might be" I replied in my most mysterious voice.

"Can the prize be a biscuit please? Any biscuit, I'm hungry" she continued.

Biscuits as a prize...the sort of thing that I'm sure would go down well with that fella who knocked Anthony Joshua over at the weekend.

We left the beach around 5.40pm and headed back to the hotel for dinner.

9.45pm - I'm now back typing in real time. The mad magician has gone and Mrs Holt is running through the itinerary and plans for tomorrow. Apparently the shop at Osborne House is 'full of old lady gifts' (whatever that means) but is good also for ice creams. Based on previous years, it's also a magnet for boys buying lots of sugary stuff and bullets...a dangerous combination in anyone's world. Mrs Holt is now fully into her annual motivational pre-sleep talk. "I've now done 16,500 steps and you've probably done a lot more than me. You will be feeling very tired." she has just told them. This is a clever strategy, I hope it works...although judging by the buzz of life on the floor at her feet, I'm not holding my breath.

More updates later when they will hopefully all be asleep.

10.50pm - right, I'm back on the leather sofa in the lounge after braving the lights out procedures upstairs. Happily I can report all is fairly quiet on the boys' floor although I did almost lose the function of my lungs after visiting Room 2. Fortunately I've done these trips before so immediately donned my breathing apparatus and bio-chemical suit. Apparently the strong aroma in there is down to Hugh's 'Jurassic World' after-shave which he bought yesterday. Gilberto  was brandishing the bottle proudly above his head. This is an interesting twist to the dinosaur theme. Patrick has still not opened his case but I'm sure when he does, the small family of T-Rex will be scurrying off to Room 2 for a quick spray of the old Jurassic World scent. They'll be well set for the disco on Thursday night.

In Room 3, it was a much more ozone-friendly atmosphere and Ollie and Joe had employed the tall wooden wardrobe thing for its correct purpose. Hanging up in there were smart shirts, a jacket..oh, and a Chelsea shirt which I swiftly suggested should be put back inside a black bag in the suitcase. Isaac enjoyed that little suggestion although Conor was not overly impressed. I think Room 3 could be in with a shout for the tidiest room competition this week, Joseph,Ollie, Isaac, Conor, Luke and Harry C have made a good start.

In Room 4, the boys were having several interesting conversations and have named their room 'Flat-Earthers, Australia is a myth'. This is another fascinating twist...these are the very people Columbus and co were talking about on the ferry. Rosa was right, there are some crazy guys out there. Australia surely has to exist, especially this summer when hopefully we will give them another good beating in the cricket. I'll be back in there tomorrow morning to find out a bit more about this flat earth thing.

Down on the ground floor, the two girls' rooms are beginning to settle. Room 8 is blissfully quiet so a big gold star goes to Keira, Emma, Bella, Rosa, Ella and Harriet. Charting the great oceans of the world clearly teaches you the importance of sleep. Room 7, with the rest of the girls also appears to have gone silent. This is great news as the clock has now ticked over to 11.15pm.

Ok, I will end here for now. Love and hugs from everyoner here in Sandown.

The Blog Bloke