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Monday 3rd June

Morning: Travelling to the Isle of Wight

Afternoon: Bembridge Lifeboat Station

                       Arrive at Wighthill Hotel in Sandown

Evening: Crazy Golf Championship 2024

4.00pm Good afternoon everyone from the sunny Isle of Wight. We have arrived safely and, 12 months on, I am back in the leather writing chair in the lounge of The Wight Hill Hotel. Mrs Holt has allocated the rooms and everyone is happy. Here is a quick update of the day so far:

After checking every child and the 2 orangutans were safely buckled up, then waving goodbye to you all on Ongar Hill, we enjoyed a smooth journey to Portsmouth. No dramas this year of forlorn apes left behind, pining in Mrs Holt's cupboard with only old SAT's papers for company. The omens look good for a very successful week.

We boarded the ferry Victoria of Wight and enjoyed a smooth crossing over The Solent where I happened upon several conversations of an animal nature. A few of the children were looking in the water for various varities of fish, Sapphire was providing information on a deadly 2-metre wide sea creature specimen named the Box Jellyfish and Louis informed me that some distant relation who lives in Australia found a massive python in her roof. As is common on a Year 6 residential, these conversations were going on together but only loosely related...although I'm hoping 2-metre box jellyfish live in Australia with Louis' roof-dwelling python and steer well clear of our shores.

After disembarking the ferry, we made the short drive to Bembridge Lifeboat Station where we had lunch and were met by our guide Mike, a retired Royal Marine who has volunteered for the RNLI for the last 24 years. He was very knowledgeable...which is just as well as he faced a steady stream of excellent questions. As we walked towards the first boathouse, I asked Laurence if he'd had a good half term. Apparently it was very enjoyable, he went camping, and received medical treatment for a bump on his head via the medium of an ice-cold beer can. "The beer can literally saved me Mr Tindall" he concluded. I've heard many a story of sore heads caused by ice cold beer cans but this is a new one for me. We should write to the Prime Minister and demand tax on beer in cans be severely reduced due to its medicinal uses. Mr & Mrs Curry, Ive suggested Laurence runs for PM with this as his major policy....which would put him one clear policy ahead of the rest.

Inside the small boat house, Mike provided lots of interesting information about the small inshore D-Class lifeboat then he asked "Where do you think these lifeboats are made?"

'Good question' I thought as the hands shot in the air. Mike pointed... "China?"

"Hmm, no, it's closer than that" he replied.

"Japan" came another suggestion.

"No much closer than that" he said.

"France!" was next.

"You're getting much closer now" he said excitedly. 'We're going to crack it now' I thought and then..."South Korea!" was offered up. It was all going so well.

For the record, the lifeboats are actually manufactured in the boat yard at Cowes which is wonderful to hear. Mike then told the children that the inshore lifeboats cost around £75,000 to build and this funding all comes from charitable donations.

"Why don't the government pay for them? Maddie asked. You could copy and paste this excellent question in so many areas of our lives at present. I'm thinking Maddie should run as Deputy PM along with Laurence...the country would be a much better place with those two in charge.

4.55pm Ok everyone, I need to take a short break here as it is almost time for dinner. The children are currently creating a name for their rooms which includes a co-ordinated design team (obviously girls' rooms) and the strategy of a selection of random sketches coupled with much staring at the page adopted by the boys. Louis has told me they have 'a futuristic shower that can shoot jets of water upwards". I'm assuming this was designed by someone in Australia worried about the dangers of pythons in the roof.

First offer on the room names are:

'Six Surfers' (like the use of alliteration there) delivered by Sophia L

More to come later...after food and the crazy golf championship

Bye for now

The Blog Bloke

9.20pm Welcome back to Sandown, this time from the very soft and comfy leather sofa in the lounge where I’m sitting alongside Maximilian and Caden. They are enjoying an orange juice and retro biscuit (custard cream or bourbon on the menu) whilst I’m not…at least not yet. Let’s rewind to where I left off before dinner…

Caden informs me their room name is Black Magik ‘with a k’ which is apparently the actual name of Max T’s drag racing car. Caden, Max, Maximilian, Hudson, James, Louis, Alfie & Josh are clearly planning for a fast-paced week…hopefully without the noise (or indeed fumes!) of a drag racer.

Across the hall downstairs in Room 1 they have settled on ‘Guess the name’ which clearly indicates that the random sketches and staring at the page before dinner hasn’t quite worked its magic yet.

Upstairs, Room 2 have named their abode ‘The People’ According to Maddie “We have the smallest room but it’s the best.” Perhaps an early bidder for the tidiest room competition this week? I’m sure Maddie, Mary, Liza, Sapphire, Martha and Jess are quietly confident of success.

The Six Surfers (Sophia L, Issy J, Sophia H, Anabella, Evie & Carly) are in Room 6. “How would you describe your room?” I asked. Anabella pondered…”Hmm, well its got a sofa in it” she replied. Stylish…a bedroom with a sofa in it sounds like a winner, and the sort of thing that would appeal to a  collection of surfers.

Room 3 have named their special place ‘Seven Souls’ which is either one-upmanship on the six surfers or some very deep and meaningful spiritual sanctuary on the first floor. It will be very interesting to watch how things develop this week for Izzy B, Abi, Ferne, Macy B, Macey M, Freya and Raima

Right, time to rewind to the lifeboat station this afternoon. In the small boathouse, Mike ran through some safety rules around water using a range of flags and signs. The children showed excellent knowledge throughout although I did slightly raise an eyebrow at the response of ‘no jellyfish allowed’ to this one.

Thinking back to Sapphire’s 2-metre box jellyfish story on the ferry, I was pleased to hear Mike inform the group that this is the ‘No Inflatables’ sign. I wonder what the ‘Danger, box jellyfish’ sign would look like? I’d best check that with Sapphire before we get back to school.

Mike also warned the children about the dangers of tombstoning into shallow water. “Avoid this at all costs as there could be very nasty things under the water that could do you serious harm if you jump in” he said.

Owen looked at me. ‘Killer whales, sharks, giant squid…box jellyfish’ ran through my mind. “Rocks or other hard objects” I said with a slight nod

After leaving the small boathouse with the boats built in Cowes just outside South Korea, we walked along the causeway to the main boathouse which houses the large Tamar Class vessel, one of only 27 in the whole of the UK. We were informed that this lifeboat cost £2.7 million and was paid for by an anonymous donor on the island. These boats, and the people who so bravely sail them, provide an incredibly selfless and invaluable service to our island. The lifeboat was launched 57 times in 2023 and 13 times so far this year.  I pondered on the fact that Antony cost Man Utd £81.3 million and, after two years at the club, I’m still waiting for him to provide any service of any kind for his centre forward. Man Utd could have bought 30 Tamar Class lifeboats instead…now there is something to think about.

Overall, this was an excellent and very educational visit. The children showed great focus and interest, delivering a whole raft of fabulous questions. Top marks here to Ferne, Abi and Sapphire, who led the way with her inquisitiveness and note-taking.

After arriving at the hotel & allocating the rooms we had dinner which was soup, fish fingers, chips and peas followed by ice-cream. Best quote during dinner came from Alex who, after devouring 3 large plates of food, said “That was delicious, cooked to perfection. I’m going to tell the chef I’m nominating her for Masterchef.”

 It's fair to say that Diane (the hotel owner and celebrated chef) was utterly thrilled and has declared Alex as her favourite guest of the year already!

After dinner we walked along the seafront to ‘Dinosaur Island Adventure Golf’ where we were put into groups and the action began. I was tasked with keeping an eye on the Seven Souls which I was assuming would be very relaxing and would leave me in a chilled zen-like state. It’s fair to say it didn’t quite turn out that way although it was certainly an adventurous round of golf. This started with Ferne asking ”How do I hold this stick?”

After telling me she was right-handed, I demonstrated and Ferne said “I think I’ll just stand like this” Ferne…the right-handed left-handed golfer started her round with her ‘stick’ positioned neither right or left-handed. ‘This is going to be interesting’ was my first thought…and then there was Raima who had managed to co-ordinate her orange top with a matching orange ball. It was all very stylish and something that could take off on the LIV Golf Tour… we could make a fortune and solve our money problems at school if we get the marketing right. If you are a golf fan, I can only describe Raima’s crazy golf style as reminiscent of Bryson De Chambeau after several cans of Red Bull. She absolutely smashes the cover off every shot…and all done with the biggest smile. It was all very entertaining. On the hole behind our group, Mrs Capindale was looking very professional, carefully marking the scorecard like someone coming off the 18th at St Andrews. This was particularly important as, inspired by his dinner, 3-plates Masterchef Alex stylishly became the first in the class to get a hole in one.

Back very soon, time for the lights-out rounds...

Ok, I'm back for the final time today...

Stop Press: Mr & Mrs Jones – following the 10th hole at the golf, I would advise you to take out an enhanced insurance policy, before Friday, to cover loss of monies. After much banter with the boys’ group behind us, Laurence got on the tee. Ferne said “If you can get a hole in one through that log, I’ll give you £200”.

To be fair, it was probably less than a 1% chance…but the screams and howls could probably be heard in Portsmouth as the ball trickled into the hole. £200 is a great early campaign boost for the new Prime Minister candidate. Momentum is growing for The Holy Family Party.

After all of the shenanigans, the final scores were assessed, Interestingly, Mrs Capindale’s professional approach paid huge dividends with her group claiming the top 3 positions. Here are the top 5:

Joint 5th Max T & Louis with 50 shots

4th Sapphire 49 shots

3rd Laurence 48 shots (+£200 better off 😊)

2nd Jakub 46 shots

1st place and 2024 Golf Champion Dominik 45 shots

On the walk back to the hotel, I caught up with the champ as he strolled along with Alex. I asked him if he played much golf. Very casually, he replied “Well, not really too much. I’ve played a few times at Top Golf…and once in New York”. We clearly have a secret PGA member in our midst. Bizarrely, the boys’ conversation quickly switched to why there are so many ladies pushing dogs around in prams which then led Dominik to say “I was cycling along the canal recently and saw a cat in a pram, then I fell off my bike.” Alex found the image of a cat in a pram very funny and very strange in equal measure…which is exactly what I was thinking.

As I mentioned earlier, a Year 6 residential never fails to be an enlightening experience.

It is now 10.45pm and most of the children have settled down to sleep. It is fairly quiet in the Wight Hill Hotel and the teachers are on a rota duty for checking everyone is ok. Its my turn soon so I will sign off for now. It’s been a very successful day with several compliments paid to the group already, Tomorrow, we’re off to Ryde to climb a giant tree in the morning then visiting the monkeys and owls in the afternoon. The weather forecast looks great so we’re set for a special day… which will undoubtedly see yours truly somehow being volunteered yet again to lead the orienteering around the park. Mrs Capindale has already comprehensively ruled herself out of anything resembling orienteering with Miss Hunter adding that “It would be unfair to step in when we already have an expert in the group.” I have pointed out to her that we need a succession plan so perhaps she can take up the challenge tomorrow…over to Mrs Holt now for the decision…I’ll keep you updated tomorrow but don’t hold your breath. It’s a high percentage chance that it will be another morning trudging around amongst the long grass and wild scratchy things whilst looking for hidden wooden plaques…and, if so, that will do for me.

For tonight, it’s over and out and much love coming your way from the red leather sofa in Sandown.

The Blog Bloke