9.25am - Well, here we are...departure day has finally arrived and the hall is packed with parents waiting for the big send off. The children are all here (which is great) and in good spirits (which is even better) so hopefully we are in for a fabulous week. Even the sun is trying vainly to put in an appearance as it fights its way through the clouds - let's hope the clouds in the Isle of Wight show less fighting spirit this week and the sun's rays shine brightly. At the moment, the biggest challenge would appear to be in store on Wednesday when the forecast predicts rain, rain and a bit more rain just in case the first lots don't drench us. I will be checking the forecast regularly in the desperate hope that I can leave the coat in the coach where it belongs in June. Preparations for unloading the coach without shattering the back have taken an upturn with the discovery of a fork lift company in Sandown - despite my week of Popeye cartoons and spinach, I have one on standby just in case Mrs O'Connor's case is the twin of the 2013 case.
First stop today is the HMS Victory where we will unfortunately be without our informative tour guide Father Richard. This is a bit like a naval version of Barcelona turning up for a Champions League game without Lionel Messi so I am hoping another star steps up to the plate to deliver something inspirational on board. Whatever happens, I will be on hand with the blue book to capture the action and you will read it here first. More news coming soon. Bye for now!
5.35pm Hello again everyone...this time from sunny Shanklin. This is just a quick note to say we have arrived safely and everyone is in good spirits. The wifi connection has worked first time and the computer is also being friendly so I will able to give you a full update soon of our action-packed day so far. Dinner is at 6pm so it will be after that. Children are currently unpacking bags and settling in to their rooms. It is customary for me when writing a Year 6 blog to give little hints about room allocations so I may drop a few lines in here and there over the course of the week. To begin with, I noticed room 5 is particularly spacious for only 3 boys...plenty of room to do the haka in there as I've just pointed out to them. Room 9 is very pink :-)
Needless to say, there have been some cracking lines today and it has certainly been informative...more about that later whilst the children enjoy their time with the storyteller after dinner. Until then, it's over and out
7.10pm Ok everyone, food has been consumed and I'm back. Dinner was pasta bolognese followed by fruit salad and cream. Plenty of clean plates suggests the children enjoyed it. Now, it's time to rewind to the action earler today. On the journey to Portsmouth the coach was so quiet we began to wonder if we had left all the children behind in Addlestone but as we entered the city our first 'crisis' broke the silence as a 'massive bee' had somehow found its way into the back of the coach. "Just ignore it and it will do you no harm" were Mrs Holt's reassuring instructions however apparently the bee was the size of a racing pigeon which I would suggest would do you quite a lot of harm if it actually decided to attack. Undeterred by the bee's Schwarzenegger-like physique, Mrs Holt purposefully marched to the back and re-appeared moments later with a folded piece of A4 paper in her hand. Lifting the paper with a flourish she unveiled a yellow cup the size of a thimble inside of which was the aforementioned 'massive bee'. Seconds later as we pulled up to park the coach, Arnie Schwarzenbee was on his merry way on the sea breeze.
We swiftly followed the bee off the coach and strolled over to the historic naval yard to learn about Nelson and the HMS Victory. As mentioned earlier, without Father Richard this was always threatening to be a more challenging task however all the pressure was lifted in an instant thanks to one of the boys who pointed to the large grey hulk of a modern warship and said "Is that HMS Victory?" This is the dream scenario for any teacher as it became instantly obvious that the children would learn lots on their visit.
Following quickly on the heels of this, another of the boys then asked "Are there any guided missiles on the HMS Victory?" I bet this is the first question Nelson asked when he boarded before the Battle of Trafalgar...I mean, any 19th Century admiral worth his salt would be asking the same question. I suppose if you class a 32 pound shot hurtling out of a cannon at 500 miles an hour as a guided missile then the answer is yes. Inside the museum, Kelsey-Jane, Amy and Isabelle were looking at the very life-like model of Nelson and described it as 'scary'. I'm sure this is exactly the response he wanted when he met up with the French & Spanish fleets all those years ago. "He was armless you know" I informed them. Their quizzical looks suggested they were unsure. "I mean, he only had one arm" I added. From behind me a voice suddenly asked "Really...which one!" In all fairness, they probably couldn't see the model with the missing arm so I will give them the benefit of the doubt.
As we were about to board the Victory I noticed the list of prohibited items which included stiletto heels which surely would have ruled Mrs O'Neil out of the Battle of Trafalgar. Up on the first deck, Natasha and Caitlin were having quite an intense debate about the virtues of hammocks v modern beds, the crux of which was how easily it would be to 'flop down on a hammock after a hard day at school'. It appears the fact that you would have to climb into the hammock before 'flopping down' ruled it out as a viable option. Company directors of Dreams, please take note. Moving along to the punishments part of the ship, Mrs Holt was explaining the use of leg irons as way of deterring 'naughty behaviour' . She then asked "What do you think they would do if you were really badly behaved?" "You'd be hung!" Kieran responded swiftly. A trifle extreme I think but I guess any really naughty sailors would soon get the message. Holding up the cat o nine tails (which was stored in a small red bag), Mrs Holt then explained how they were used and one of the boys (I'm not sure who it was) said with a puzzled expression..."So they'd put you in that red bag...then hang you?" Crossed wires somewhere in the translation I think although I expect this lot would have gone down a storm in a 19th century naval battleship. Down in the hold, Kieran was having a great time looking at all the cannon shot and various other armaments when he suddenly declared "In Pirates of the Caribbean they have fashionable triangles of cannon balls...I don't see any here." This rather amused a passing gentleman who chuckled to himself as I simply shrugged my shoulders. Our final stop on the Victory was the actual spot where brave Horatio Nelson actually died. This is marked with a plaque and a huge barrel depicting the fact that his body was placed in a barrel of alcohol to preserve it. Mrs Holt was explaining this to a group of boys. Gus suggested the preservative would be either rum or brandy then one of the boys scratched his head and said "Mrs Holt...is he still in there?" As I said earlier, I knew the children would learn lots of exciting new things on this trip :-)
After departing the fun of the Victory, we headed back towards the coach and I pointed to the top of the Spinnaker Tower. "Mr Gorman is quite keen to jump off there" I said. Again from just behind me, one of the boys said "Will he be using a rope?" Only if he wants to preserve his Irish Dancing career I suppose :-) As we were boarding the ferry, we were parked behind a lorry full of cows (going on holiday to Cowes maybe?) but luckily for us we were waved past and onto the ferry. I headed to get some coffee for the staff and on the way back the sweet smell drifting on the sea breeze helped me realise that the cows were also on board. Kieran continued with his nuggets of highly interesting facts when he suddenly said "Did you know birds don't actually like flying because it's tiring." I'm not sure how many birds were interviewed in this survey carried out by Kieran but it makes you wonder what the Arctic Tern is thinking of flying Pole to Pole and back twice a year? "Is this similar to certain boys not liking writing because it's tiring?" I asked him and this was backed up by Mrs Holt who posed the question "What about when they're gliding on the air currents...that can't be tiring?" We are still awaiting Kieran's response to those questions. I've decided he can ask the birds of prey on Wednesday if they get tired flying around, that should provide a definitive answer to this mystery.
During dinner the storyteller arrived and this proved to be a real curveball as it wasn't Jack Sparrow's dad with his pirate stories as in previous years. It was infact a lady in a long black dress who would be telling tales of smuggling on the island. As I sit and write this, she continues to entertain them...smuggling is clearly quite a humorous topic as there have been frequent roars of laughter interspersed with shouting, banging and howling - a bit like your average 'Britain's Got Talent' show but better. Right, that's about everything up to date for now. I'm off for a quick trawl of the rooms to see if the boys have heeded the advice provided in my excellent inservice training where I attempted to introduce them to the tall wooden thing with the hangers and the smaller wooden thing with the drawers. Wish me luck...I'll be back later with an update!
9.55pm Good evening again everyone. Stop Press...correction, Room 8 is very pink. Room 9 is only partially pink. Stop Press 2...last year on the first evening we had a missing slipper. The saga became known as 'the slipper stealing spectre of St Brelade's'. This year it appears this strage phenomenon has returned with a missing slipper in the partially pink room. This is a partiicularly interesting development as the 2013 spectre affected only boys. It is clearly branching out in its sllpper collection. I will keep you posted.
We have just returned from a wonderful hour on the golden beach below the hotel. It was a beautiful calm evening to play beach games and the children had great fun playing football, baseball, frisbee and general sand games stuff. They are all settled now in pyjamas and enjoying a drink and biscuit. Sitting across from me is a giant Union Jack alongside a crocodile and Rambo...marvellous and only on a Year 6 residential. Stop Press 3...it appears Room 6 has a bed made of quick sand. Josh has just very politely asked the question "Mrs Capindale, when you lie on the bed are you supposed to sink right into the mattress?" Happily he appears to have used a Bear Grylls style strategy to extract himself as he is now sitting happily atop a bar stool. Clearly I will need to be very careful when carrying out inspections in Room 6. Mrs Holt has just begun her inspirational pre-sleep motivational talk..."You've had a really long, tiring day today and you WILL be very tired by now so it will be time to go to sleep soon..." Top class psychology...all that's missing is the swinging watch on a chain :-)
Stop Press 4...the bed in Room 6 is very soft, Josh is not exaggerating. I will be on the internet later looking at Bear Grylls survival videos so I can pass on advice. Gus has just declared that he 'will definitely be better than Olivia at rock climbing' (we'll see about that tomorrow) and 'Have you put my EnderMan in the blog?" I have now...he's clearly very attached to EnderMan so I expect he will be on the rock wall with him tomorrow morning. It's taken several minutes debate to get EnderMan's name up here due to an animated discussion about whether he has a hyphen in the middle...apparently he doesn't and that''s official according to the Minecraft officianados...impromptu SPAG lessons have their place on school journeys.
The children have headed off to settle down for bed now. I may do one final post later to let you all know how successful Mrs Holt's motivational talk has been. Let's hope it works a treat and the rooms are as quiet as the 'g' in lasagne
11.20pm Well, here is my final post of the day and I'm thrilled to say that the hotel has been blissfully silent for the last 20 minutes. As quiet as a timid mouse with laryngitis. Perfect. Mrs Holt''s motivational talk has done it again. It's been a fabulous first day and all the children are safe, well and happy. They all say a big hello to loved ones at home. Who knows what tomorrow will bring in our weird and wacky world! Whatever occurs you can read all about it here. Mrs O'Connor has been snapping away all day to capture the action in pictures and they will be well worth looking at once the trip is done. Memories to last a lifetime. Until tomorrow, it's goodnight from the whole team in Shanklin :-)